Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Adviser Harlan Ullman writes for War on the Rocks on why the current level of defense spending cannot and will not sustain current force levels:
Congress has finally passed, and President Barack Obama signed, a defense bill for fiscal year 2015. With the base budget ($496 billion) and add-ons for overseas contingency operations (OCO) and a presidential increase, defense spending will come in at about $600 billion or so. And the Pentagon hopes that sequestration, which cuts half a trillion dollars from defense over 10 years, will be reversed.
But the reality is that the current level of spending cannot and will not sustain current force levels. Nor does the United States need to maintain the current active duty force (about 1.25 million) along with a large reserve component and nearly equally sized civilian workforce even as future operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will demand substantial deployments. We can maintain the security and safety of the nation with a smaller force if we do it smartly.