Public national security strategy documents tend to avoid making tradeoffs and inflate threats to the country, writes Ben Friedman. Eliminating these documents may not only make for better strategy but also better analysis and debate on U.S. national security policy.
The release of the next National Defense Strategy, expected in early 2022, will address the continued importance of China as a “pacing threat” even as it recognizes the “increasingly complicated and complex security landscape.” As the renewed potential for great power conflict drives strategy and plans, some have dubbed this a “new Cold War.” Letting this planning construct drive DoD’s investment program without paying attention to other kinds of potential contingencies is a bad idea.
The Defense Department should start preparing now for an uncertain post-coronavirus budget environment. It should clearly identify the “crown jewel” capabilities it cannot sacrifice, start cutting end strength and lower priority force structure, and prepare for a robust debate over global security commitments and budget constraints.