Defense Department grapples with budget uncertainty

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Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson recently said that while she welcomed the increase in funding provided by the latest budget deal, the military shouldn’t expect the trend of higher budgets to continue.

“I think she’s basically correct,” said Frank Kendall, senior advisor for the International Security program at CSIS and former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics. “If you look at the various forces that impinge on the defense budget, a lot of forces are in motion that will probably take it in the opposite direction to where we just went.”

Kendall says that while increased threats and power competition pushed the U.S. military budget to its extreme highs, there are other, smaller forces that could cause the trend to reverse.

“Political winds seem to be shifting towards the left which traditionally is not a large source of defense funding,” Kendal said, “You could argue that deficits don’t matter anymore, but they do matter, and accounts like the payments on the national interest and the huge deficit we’re building really matter at the end of the day.”