Defense hawks in Congress are using the overriding takeaway from the recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission — the U.S. military is at risk of losing its next major conflict — as their opening argument in an effort to sustain the growth in defense spending over the past two years. “We got ourselves into this mess and we’ve got to get ourselves out of this mess,” Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said at hearing Tuesday on the report. Gary Roughead, who served as chief of naval operations from 2007 to 2011 and was a co-chair of the commission, said “it will take money to” achieve the National Defense Strategy. Roughead echoed Inhofe’s belief that a $733 billion topline for national security spending in fiscal 2020 would be a good “floor.” The administration is planning to request $700 billion for national security in FY 2020, a change from its initial plan to propose a $733 billion budget and a $16 billion cut from the current allocation.
In its report, the commission recommends 3 to 5 percent real growth annually in defense spending, matching the requirement expressed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last year. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a member of the commission before he was picked to take John McCain’s Senate seat, said the panel’s report could prove useful if the GOP finds itself fighting Democrats to raise defense spending. “My hope is that the bipartisan nature of this commission will enable Democrats who are in doubt to come to the right conclusions, and that the intelligent Democratic members of the commission can perhaps persuade members who don’t have the facts on the need to do this,” Kyl told Defense News earlier this month.
Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anabel Abreu-Rodriguez