At first blush, the Obama Administration’s 2016 budget request looks like good news for America’s military. The purchasing power of the Pentagon’s regular budget would rise 6% from this year’s level, and much of the increase would go to under-funded weapons accounts. That’s an important move at a time when Pentagon officials say overseas adversaries are beginning to close the technology gap with America’s armed forces. However, in order for the increase to stick, Congress has to loosen spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, and at the moment that is not looking likely. What’s looking likely is that defense spending will follow the projections released by the Congressional Budget Office last week, and fall from 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product in 2014 to 3.0% in 2017 to 2.8% at the end of the decade. If that happens, there’s a real danger that countries like China will catch up with the U.S. in key warfighting technologies, because Washington isn’t investing enough in the military tools of the future. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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