This week Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released his recommendations for the FY 2018-2021 defense budget, called “Restoring American Power.”
McCain’s blunt assessment of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) budget and the negative effect it has had on our nation’s military includes stating that “We are now at a tipping point.” Referencing the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), which resulted in sequestration, McCain argues that by forcing DoD “to start the year locked into the previous year’s budget” is, in practice, a budget cut. This has resulted in “depleted readiness and deferred modernization.”
On President-elect Trump’s pledge to eliminate the defense portion of sequestration, he says “This cannot happen soon enough.” In order to rebuild and reshape the forces, McCain recommends $640 billion in FY18, which is $54 billion above President Obama’s budget, with an additional $430 billion above the current plan over the next five years.
Saying that sequestration has wreaked havoc on the services, McCain is firm in his conclusion that the BCA must be repealed. He outlines two priorities in his recommendations:
- Modernizing the joint force for the new realities of deterring conflict and competing with great powers that possess advanced military forces.
- Regaining capacity for our military to perform its current missions at acceptable levels of risk.
His recommendations include details for each service within DoD, followed by the estimate of the increased spending over the next five years in order to achieve these recommendations. Without repealing the Budget Control Act, “…any claims to rebuild our military will be empty.”
McCain ends with a cautionary conclusion. By doing nothing, “Our military’s ability to deter conflict will continue to weaken…but if the new President and Congress work together, we can begin to chart a better course, one that is worthy of the service and sacrifice of those who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.”