U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

By Jon Harper

Defense Dept. photo

A new report has a grim message: the Pentagon’s force structure will likely prove inadequate barring a boost in defense spending or a major change in national security strategy.

Force structure includes the number, size and structure of military units.

President Joe Biden requested $715 billion for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2022 — a 1.6 percent budget increase that is below the rate of inflation.

If that “no-growth” pattern continues in coming years, force structure will shrink rapidly, according to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “U.S. Military Forces in FY 2022 — The Budget and Strategy Overview.”

Biden’s fiscal blueprint also called for a slight decrease in active-duty end strength, from 1,351,000 personnel in 2021 to 1,346,400 in 2022.

“The Trump administration’s plan for moderate growth in force structure has likely been shelved,” said CSIS analyst Mark Cancian, the author of the study.

As of press time, the Biden administration has yet to release its new national defense strategy. However, based on the interim national security strategic guidance released earlier this year, there is likely to be no major reductions in military roles and missions, according to Cancian.

The Pentagon faces several long-term challenges, he said, including the need to meet demands for crisis response, allied engagement, gray zone competition and ongoing regional conflicts while simultaneously modernizing for great power competition. Investments in modernization could require trade­offs in force structure, he noted.

“The opening of a gap between resources and strategy — as budgets are flat or reduced and the strategy remains unchanged — increases risk, as military capabilities may not be able to back foreign policy commitments,” he said.

“For strategic and budgetary reasons, force structure is ‘staring into the abyss,’” he added. “These resources are unlikely to be adequate for the expansive national security strategy that the Biden administration has laid out. … Several years of flat budgets will erode U.S. capabilities. A less ambitious strategy could accommodate that erosion, but the Biden administration’s commitment to global engagement may drive a continuing high level of military deployments.”

However, some in Congress, including lawmakers on key committees, are pushing to plus-up the defense budget.

“If these efforts succeed, force structure could be yanked back from the brink,” Cancian said. “Congressional proposals for increased resources have not added personnel but would take the pressure off force structure as the source of funding. Force structure in all the services would likely continue at about its current level, with the possible exception of Navy ships, which [would] increase.”

Topics: Defense Department

Comments (7)

Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

When it was apparent that Biden had won my first comment to myself that the military and NASA was going to be defunded or at funded much below what their current funding level as a percentage of the budget. My self comment is proving to be true. I based that comment on the past performance of the democrat party even before there were as many "PROGRESIVE" members in it. Now this does not mean that the rest of the budget would be reduced. Not at all! In fact it means much of the budget will be increased. We see this coming true now. With the increase in the budget and the deficit spending the cost of servicing the debt is going to skyrocket. That cost would be on the way up now if it was not for gimmicks used to hide the inflation and keep the cost of servicing the debt down.
We have an example of what this will bring now if we look at most of Europe. Europe chose to spend more on social programs and less on the defense of their own area and their military is way down from what it would take to repel an invasion from someone such as Russia. But the Europeans had a backup for their defense, the US who would do what it has done every since WW1. Now since the US is joining the Europeans and reducing our military but without OUT a backup plan. We could not depend on Europe for backup. Their military is in worse shape than the US military is. So give a couple or so years Russia and maybe with backing from China will be bold enough to invade Europe. If Russia/China gets bold enough to try the invasion route don't expect them to not occupy the territory that they overrun even if it is the most of Europe. There will be no need because the US will not be able to stop them. There is a caveat here and that depends on the other party not taking control of congress in 2022 elsections

Curly4 at 2:23 PM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

Pentagon states we will be short foreign policy commitments. Our Foreign policy has been a failure for 80yrs. We wouldn't have a mass migration surge at our borders or European borders if we'd stop destroying countries for commercial benefits. Major general Smedley Butler was spot on

Jkru at 9:04 AM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

As an veteran Army 88-93. If at all possible I would help with the financial shortage. I can't do that but I will stand up and defend this country. It is a shame that our brave worries can't get the funding they need

Patrick at 11:42 AM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

How do we pay for this huge military budget in no wartime? If we had an 80 % decrease in military spending then we'd still have a bigger military budget than China.

Randall Smith at 1:59 AM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

Biden has no apparent strategy, domestic, foreign or military. Not much has changed since he was a Senator except the forceful push for EV's. That will not lessen dependence on oil.
The plastics in cars will increase offsetting fuel.

Randy at 6:55 PM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

It's that 70s show again. Unsurprisingly many of today's civilian leadership came on the scene during that time, and permanently emasculating the US military was the goal then. It seems they've finally succeeded.

SPHarte at 6:02 PM
Re: U.S. Military ‘Staring into Abyss,’ Report Says

This is not the consequence of funding issues, rather this is the direct consequence of the Neo-Cons systematic misuse of the US Defense Forces. The Neo-Cons are a cabal of foreign policy ideologues who fantasize about full spectrum global hegemony, and who further believe the US military should not be kept for defense of mainland and territorial USA, but rather as an aggressive weapon in service of their foreign policy fantasies. This shift in purpose has been going on since late 1990's, with advent of first Neo-Con Secretary of State, Albright, and with all her successors. This has led to 'humanitarian interventions' (in old lingo: aggressive wars) against Yugoslavia, Iraq 2.0, Libya, Syria, and special forces deployments in hundreds of other countries, often operating as illegal and hostile occupation bases on foreign soil. Three decades of this hyper aggressive Neo-Con carry-on, and adding trillions in public debt to finance it, has not gone unnoticed by the US general public. When Paul Wolfowitz openly stated, after the fact, that the Iraq War 2.0 was really fought for the regional benefit of Israel, the message was very clear. The Neo-Cons will send US soldiers to die for their grandiose hegemony agenda, one that does not prioritize the most basic doctrinal purpose of the US military, for the defense of the USA mainland and territories. Now, what 18 year and their parents old wants to sign up for this Neo-Con global hegemony project in 2023? The Neo-Cons have systematically abused the US military institutions and have been slow motion wrecking them for last three decades. Until the State Department is cleaned out of these ideologues, the situation will only deteriorate, and at current trends, basic projections will see the US military in structural ruins by next decade.

Thomas Jefferson at 11:56 AM
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