According to Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA), the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review was intended to provide a touchstone to help measure the military capabilities, capacity, and willpower needed to secure America’s vital national interests. Yet in a conversation on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Rep. Forbes — along with a panel of experts from AEI, the Foreign Policy Initiative, the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments — argued that budget cuts are undermining the military’s ability to reconcile strategy with declining resources.
According to Rep. Forbes, whereas the military was able to meet 90 percent of Combatant Commanders’ requirements in 2007, today it can only meet 43 percent, which strains existing forces and increases risk to each mission. Quoting former House Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Vinson, Rep. Forbes warned that the most expensive thing the country can buy is a cheap Army and Navy, and the US cannot afford to go down that path.
The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was intended to determine the size and cost of the armed forces America needs to fulfill its strategic obligations. However, since its creation, the effort has largely failed to meet expectations. With the latest strategy just released, did the Pentagon get it right this time?
Please join Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA), AEI, the Heritage Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Initiative for a timely discussion on the 2014 QDR and the future of American defense strategy in an era of constrained budgets.
Christopher J. Griffin, Foreign Policy Initiative
Steven Bucci, Heritage Foundation
Mackenzie Eaglen, AEI
J. Randy Forbes, US House of Representatives (R-VA)
Todd Harrison, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
Steven Bucci is director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies and the senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation for all issues involving homeland security and defense. Before joining Heritage in 2012, Bucci was a lead consultant to IBM on cybersecurity policy and before that served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official. As commander of Third Battalion, Fifth Special Forces, he led deployments to Eastern Africa, South Asia, and the Persian Gulf, including Operation Desert Thunder in 1998 in response to Saddam Hussein’s threats to violate the no-fly zone over Iraq. He assumed the duties of military assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on July 1, 2001. He continued to serve as the staff director of the immediate offices of the secretary of defense in 2005 and was next appointed to serve as the deputy assistant secretary of defense, homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities. Bucci is also an adjunct professor of leadership at George Mason University and an associate professor of terrorism studies and cyber security policy at Long Island University.
Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. She has worked on defense issues in the US Congress — both in the House of Representatives and Senate — and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness, and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon’s major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense-related issues, she has also testified before Congress.
J. Randy Forbes has served on the House Armed Services Committee for the past 11 years and is currently chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. As chairman, he is responsible for the research, development, acquisition, and sustainment of Navy and Marine Corps programs, as well as the Air Force’s bomber and tanker fleets. He served as chairman and ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee from 2009 to 2012. A nationally recognized champion of America’s active-duty warfighters and veterans, Rep. Forbes is one of the few individuals to receive the highest civilian honors from both the Army and the Navy. He is also a leading voice in calling attention to the complex challenges associated with China’s rise. In 2005, Rep. Forbes founded the Congressional China Caucus to help educate members and staff about the military and economic elements of the US-China relationship. He is a frequent commentator on Asia-Pacific security issues and is working to promote a comprehensive strategic framework to protect American interests and allies in the Asia-Pacific in light of Chinese military modernization and US defense cuts.
Christopher J. Griffin is the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative. Previously, he served as legislative director to US Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT) and between 2008 and 2011 was the senator’s military legislative assistant, with responsibility for the senator’s legislative agenda as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before joining Sen. Lieberman’s staff, Griffin was a research fellow at AEI (2005–08), where he focused on US foreign and defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region. During his time at AEI, Griffin was a contributing editor to the Armed Forces Journal, writing feature articles on international defense industrial cooperation and a monthly column titled the “Blogs of War.” Griffin’s writings have been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
Todd Harrison is the senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). He joined CSBA in 2009 from Booz Allen Hamilton where he supported clients across the US Department of Defense, assessing challenges to modernization initiatives and evaluating the performance of acquisition programs. He previously worked in the aerospace industry developing advanced space systems and technologies and served as a captain in the US Air Force Reserves. Harrison frequently contributes to print and broadcast media and has appeared on CNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera English, and Fox News.