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Budgeting for Hard Power: Defense and Security Spending Under Barack Obama

WASHINGTON, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Even as the global economic crisis consumes President Obama's attention -- and the nation's resources -- he still must focus on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the situation in Pakistan. The new Brookings Institution Press book Budgeting for Hard Power: Defense and Security Spending Under Barack Obama (June 2009) analyzes the competing demands of national security, diplomacy and warfare and recommends how to prioritize them. Brookings Senior Fellow Michael E. O'Hanlon examines how much money will be needed, how much will be available and how it should be spent.

Budgeting for Hard Power continues the tradition of Brookings analysis on defense spending. As with previous volumes, this book examines the budgets of the Pentagon and the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs. O'Hanlon takes his assessment further, addressing the wide range of activities crucial for American security as a result of 9/11 and the ongoing wars. He considers homeland security resources and selected parts of the State Department and foreign operations budgets -- offering a more complete overall look at the elements that make up America's "hard power" budget, a concept that he and Kurt Campbell wrote about in Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security (2006).

With future federal deficits projected to top $1 trillion, O'Hanlon calls for Defense, State and Homeland Security budgets to be as frugal as possible. At the same time, he recognizes that resources should be selectively increased to compensate for years of systematic underfunding, especially in certain areas of homeland security, diplomacy and foreign assistance. In his typically clear and concise manner, O'Hanlon shows policy-makers how to wrestle with the resource allocation decisions affecting the national security of the United States.

O'Hanlon's budget proposal would reduce future needs for military resources modestly, relative to plans, while increasing funding for homeland security and for foreign assistance and diplomacy. In broad contours, his chief recommendations are similar to those of the Obama budget plan. For example:

  • In addition to Secretary Gates' proposed reductions in a number of weapons programs, O'Hanlon would deploy a smaller and more economical nuclear force posture and reduce nuclear weapons spending at the nation's main Department of Energy laboratories for a combined additional savings of $2.5 billion a year.
  • O'Hanlon would further curb purchases of the V-22 tilt-rotor Marine aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and the Virginia class submarine program for an average annual savings of about $5 billion a year over the next 10 to 15 years.
  • He suggests several new initiatives, including increases in military personnel for key specialties, creation of a National Guard brigade dedicated to homeland defense and increases in benefits for elements of the extended military family still suffering the greatest hardships from the wars. These and other new initiatives would cost about $5 billion per year.
  • O'Hanlon further advocates creation of a peacekeeping division in the U.S. Army with an estimated annual cost of $3 billion to help handle problems like Congo and Darfur.
  • As such, his combined proposals would result in a military of comparable cost to the Obama administration's proposal. However, O'Hanlon estimates that one to two percent of real defense budget growth (not counting war costs) will be needed each and every year into the future to fund this force; the administration believes it can hold the line at zero real-dollar growth.
  • In homeland security, O'Hanlon supports further growth in the Coast Guard, advocates a COPS II program to help cities better prepare against terror threats, adds considerable funding for biological weapons detectors and food inspectors, proposes tougher container security measures and tighter border controls that build on current programs and advocates a new capability within the Department of Homeland Security for planning and program evaluation. The total cost of these initiatives is almost $3 billion a year.
  • In international affairs, the author advocates an additional $2 billion per year to support a larger foreign service and larger development and reconstruction capability, even more increases in economic aid for Afghanistan and Pakistan than proposed by the administration, various nonproliferation initiatives and dramatic expansion of peacekeeping training for foreign militaries. These and other changes would cost about $7 billion a year relative to last year's budget (the baseline against which proposed policy changes are measured in the book).

The Author

Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he is research director for the 21st Century Defense Initiative. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, is the lead author of the Iraq Index and is a frequent media commentator on issues of foreign policy and security.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. For more than 90 years, Brookings has analyzed current and emerging issues and produced new ideas that matter -- for the nation and the world.

Budgeting for Hard Power: Defense and Security Spending Under Barack Obama

By Michael E. O'Hanlon - Published by Brookings Institution Press - Publication date: June 2009

6 x 9 - 191 pages - paper - ISBN 978-0-8157-0294-8 - $18.95/13.99 pounds

SOURCE Brookings Office of Communications

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