Analysis / Budget, Forces

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2018

Defense Outlook Series


The Department of Defense (DOD) faces a strategic choice: whether to focus on modernization for high-tech conflicts with China and Russia or expand forces and improve readiness to meet a superpower’s commitments for ongoing conflicts and crisis response. In their FY 2018 budgets, the services all complain that they are too small for the demands being put on them and hedge toward expanding forces and readiness. In the new DOD strategy being developed for 2019 and beyond, the services hope to pursue all three goals—expand forces, improve readiness, and increase modernization—but the fiscal future is highly uncertain, and they will likely have to make difficult trade-offs.

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This report is part of the Defense360 Defense Outlook series.

(Photo courtesy of Official U.S. Navy Flickr Page, U.S. Navy, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano)

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Mark Cancian and defense360, "U.S. Military Forces in FY 2018," Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 27, 2017, last modified October 27, 2017,