Decisions for Defense

Prospects for a New Order

John D. Steinbruner, William W. Kaufmann
Release Date: September 25, 1991

After vigorous debate in 1990, Congress and the administration agreed to reduce real spending for national defense by nearly 20 percent by fiscal 1996. To achieve these savings, the defense department proposes to cut U.S. forces by about 25 percent, end procurement of most current-generation weapons, and prepare for the introduction of new capabilities after 1996. As a result, real defense spending will likely rise.

Kaufmann and Steinbruner question the assumptions on which this defense policy is based. They argue not only that the Pentagon has overstated the potential military threats of the future, but also that Defense can reduce its forces and investments below what its spokesmen have described as “an irreducible minimum.” To support their case, the authors specify the forces and budgets they consider appropriate for the next ten years.