In this special two-part discussion, Roger Zakheim, member of the National Defense Strategy Commission and director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation & Institute, and Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the CSIS International Security Program, discuss the review of the National Defense Strategy and its impact on budget and operations.
The National Defense Strategy informs what technologies and tactics the Department of Defense will pursue in the future. A congressionally-mandated commission recently released a report on the NDS, which indicated that there may be some budgetary issues with accomplishing the strategy. Roger Zakheim, member of the National Defense Strategy Commission and director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation & Institute, says that the strategy’s shifting focus means big funding changes. “Right now, before we had this defense strategy, [we were] focused on the Middle East. A huge amount of resources, particularly in the war spending accounts, were focused on Afghanistan, Iran and ISIS. if we’re truly shifting to China, that means major adjustments, both in the budget and infrastructure. It’s a different part of the world. To date, we haven’t seen that. We’ll see if that changes in 2020.” Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the CSIS International Security Program, told Government Matters that finding the funding for new strategic programs will be harder than just clearing up efficiencies. “There’s always this hope that there’s a pot of gold. People have looked at the audit and hoped that there are billions of dollars that would be found. It is possible to make management efficiencies, it is possible to get savings. The problem is, they’re very painful and it takes political capital to do them,” Cancian said. “For example, BRAC— base closure. It’s a proven process, it can save money, it’s very painful and Congress has been hesitant. I tell people, that’s the easy one. It gets harder from there.”