Expectations have been building for the FY 2020 defense budget request, a budget that acting secretary of defense Shanahan has called the “masterpiece.” As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works on finalizing the request, experts from the CSIS International Security Program outline what to look for in the FY 2020 defense budget.
Acquisition Trends 2018: Defense Contract Spending Bounces Back analyzes the current state of affairs in defense contracting at a time when the defense acquisition system sits at an inflection point. Defense contracting has rebounded these past two years, but there are unanswered questions about continued defense budget growth and the long-term effects of the last few years’ acquisition reform efforts.
Later this spring, the Trump administration will release its 2018 Missile Defense Review (MDR), which is expected to better align U.S. missile defense policy with the present security environment. President Barack Obama’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) reflected the security environment of the time and the aspirations of the Obama administration. In particular, technological advances by U.S. adversaries and a renewed focus on long-term competition with Russia and China drive the need for a new review.
The NDS issues an urgent call to action to a community—the National Security Innovation Base—that has never been called out so explicitly before. The strategy calls upon the National Security Innovation Base to gear up for a “long-term strategic competition” to maintain DoD’s technological advantage. Significantly, the strategy states that the accelerating pace and increasingly commercial nature of technological advancement will require the National Security Innovation Base to adopt “changes to industry culture, investment sources, and protection.”
The budget deal’s large defense increase in FY 2019 allows the Department of Defense (DOD) to do a lot more than it was doing before, but not everything. A major trade-off is with force structure. The forces proposed are more than what Secretary of Defense James Mattis had originally signaled but less than what President Donald Trump’s rhetoric had implied.
As we enter 2018, the stage for defense is now set. The president has signed the NSS. The secretary of defense has released the NDS and NPR; the MDR is soon to follow. The White House has made its FY 2019 budget request, and posture hearings are close at hand. However, ambition often outpaces resources, and as with the Obama administration, there is reason for concern with the administration’s plans.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed into law on February 9, is in many ways a victory for defense hawks in Congress and the administration. It increases defense funding by $165 billion over the next two years—the most that anyone could have reasonably expected. But defense hawks shouldn’t start popping the champagne corks just yet. While this deal may ease the budget pressures on the Department of Defense (DoD) for now, it comes with many risks—namely that policymakers will lose interest in much needed defense reforms and squander much of the additional funding.