By Stuart E. Johnson, Irv Blickstein, David C. Gompert, Charles Nemfakos, Harry J. Thie, Michael J. McNerney, Duncan Long, Brian McInnis, Amy Potter
RAND analysts examined how the Department of Defense (DoD) might execute deeper reductions in the defense budget, deep enough that stated defense strategy could not be fully resourced. The cuts examined go beyond the $487 billion announced in January 2012 by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The authors posit that the ongoing pressure to reduce the federal budget deficit may result in further reductions in the DoD budget. In this context, researchers suggest determining reductions through a strategy-based approach that prioritizes challenges and risks instead of pursuing more across the board cuts that can produce more indiscriminate risks. The paper demonstrates this method with three illustrative strategic directions that are based upon different priorities and that would produce different risks: prepare for persistent conflict; cede more responsibility to allies and partners; and shift focus to the West Pacific.