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.
The DoD audit might be worthwhile if it succeeds in finding large amounts of waste and inefficiency. But it won’t and frankly can’t. The audit produced a number of useful findings related to internal controls for information technology and financial reporting. But are these alone sufficient to justify the entire time, effort, and money the audit consumed? Probably not.
The OCO budget has been taken advantage of to skirt defense spending limits and to fund base budget activities that do not actually constitute war funding. However, moving all of OCO’s enduring costs into the base budget for the final two years of the Budget Control Act caps may not be politically expedient for passing a budget agreement for FY 2020 and FY 2021.
Space capabilities are already an indispensable component of U.S. military power, and the threats posed to U.S. space systems by China, Russia, and others are growing by the day. A Space Force is needed to consolidate authority and responsibility for national security space in a single chain of command; to build a robust cadre of space professionals who can develop space-centric strategy and doctrine; and to avoid the conflicts of interest inherent in the other Services that have short-changed space programs for decades.
Establishing a Department of the Space Force by 2020 is rushing into an end solution without proper consideration. Although there have been several space reorganization studies in the past two decades, a comprehensive public debate of our current space capabilities and their organization is just beginning. An incremental approach to developing a comprehensive organization for our national security space enterprise is a smarter decision.
As we reach the endgame of 2018, it is hard to be sanguine about the state of defense. DoD leadership should be commended for pushing forward with daily business amid myriad distractions and obstacles as their approach has led to greater normalcy compared to counterparts at other agencies. Yet far-reaching changes are necessary to advance the defense agenda laid out by Secretary Mattis.
The National Defense Strategy calls for “modernization of key capabilities through sustained, predictable budgets,” yet the unclassified summary and FY 2019 budget request fail to show how the Department of Defense will fund such a priority in the face of long-term, strategic competition with China and Russia.