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Andrew Hunter, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, details what the “flat” 2021 defense budget means for programs at the branches.

The 2021 defense budget request is expected out next month. Because the topline number was set as part of the 2020 budget deal, this year’s budget is expected to be flat, instead of the year over year growth seen in the Trump administration so far. Andrew Hunter, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, says that Congress is open to some big changes so the military can get the equipment it needs.


“For Congress, they are highly incentivized for certain things. They are incentivized to protect force structure, because force structure resides at bases and bases are in congressional districts. They are incentivized to support existing production lines because that drives employment in congressional districts,” Hunter said. “Congress is going to be asked by the services to essentially take a break or put aside some of its traditional priorities in support of these things in order to allow next-generation systems that don’t, in the near-term, drive as much jobs and maybe force structure cuts, which may have impacts on employment and bases. That’s going to be a tough sell, but Congress has been signaling that they are open to this approach, that they want to see a next generation of technology emerge. But the proof will be in the pudding with this year’s process.”

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