For the next two years, at least, the American public should be spared the U.S. Defense Department 's wailing about "readiness." After seven years of teeth-gnashing and garment-rending, the military is finally getting what it wants: more money than ever.
The Donald Trump administration's defense budget request for fiscal year 2019 is out, less than a week after Congress cut an overall deal on spending levels for 2018 and 2019. Unlike the domestic spending part of the administration's budget request, the defense numbers aren't dead on arrival -- in fact, the military can count on getting every cent.
The congressional deal set new levels for defense, agreeing to $700 billion for national defense in 2018 and $716 billion in 2019. That's nearly $165 billion more than the military had anticipated prior to this year. The United States is back to defense spending, in constant dollars, that is higher than the peak spending levels under Ronald Reagan. Only in 2011, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was defense spending higher.
It's worth thinking about why defense spending is about to explode. It's not because of some revolutionary change in the global security environment - aside from those pesky North Koreans and their nukes, America has never been so secure. It's not because the U.S. military's effectiveness has declined; it remains the most powerful force in the world, highly capable and very ready.
The reason the Pentagon's budget is now on a long-term upswing is because the military has spent years loudly lobbying for such an increase while complaining about an alleged "readiness crisis." Complaining works, at least when the military does it, because politicians in both parties fear the military's wrath. Partisan gridlock can still impede efforts to bump up the military's resources, but now that Republicans are in control of Congress and the White House, there are no more hurdles standing in the way.
None of this is to suggest, however, that the congressional generosity will buy Americans more security or a better force than the one they have today. (end of excerpt)
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