Assessing the Base Force

How Much Is Too Much?

William W. Kaufmann
Release Date: November 12, 1992

The Defense Department unveiled its base force in 1990. According to Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, the proposed capabilities reflect the end of the cold war and the changes that have occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Yet the real costs of the base force by 1997 will only be 27 percent lower than they were in 1990, whereas the containment of the Soviet Union accounted for more than 50 percent of the defense budget during the cold war.

In this book, William Kaufmann raises two issues: the merits of the case for the base force and the extent to which further cuts in U.S. capabilities and costs can prudently be made. He concludes that the base force remains a scaled-down relic of the cold war, that it can be reduced substantially in size without serious risk, and that cumulative real savings of approximately $200 billion can be made during the next five years.