Too often in the debate about defense spending, we talk only about ‘more’ or ‘less.’ ‘More’ certainly matters. With enough ‘more,’ you can buy a current and a future force. But readiness has a more complicated relationship with ‘more.’ Readiness is the product of two inputs: how much force structure and how ready. ‘More’ can actually make you more unready if the ‘more’ is spent increasing force structure—the proverbial hollow force. Though the specter of a hollow force has been raised, this year’s President’s budget clearly sides on readiness and should dismiss fears of a hollow force.
Don’t get me wrong, this year’s President’s budget also reopens the “more or less” conversation by arguing—including in the QDR—that the statutory levels for defense are not enough, and proposes $115 billion more over four years. That debate is primarily about whether to increase tax revenue to pay for more government spending. For the budget year FY15, that debate is really a sideline as the ‘more’ is fenced off in a separate fund—the $26 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.
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