NATIONAL INTEREST — Since the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Defense Strategic Guidance of 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been cutting the size of the military, retiring obsolescent weapons systems and reducing combat units in order to meet defense budget strictures while salvaging some prospect for modernizing the force. The Army felt the impact of this new strategy more than the other services. It cut 13 Brigade Combat Teams as part of the process of downsizing the Active Component end strength from a wartime high of 570,000 to a planned level of 450,000.
Of late, the pressure to reduce force structure and cut manpower has increased as DoD set itself on a course towards investing in advanced capabilities. As reflected in its so-called Third Offset Strategy, the Pentagon’s leadership believes the military has sufficient capacity or force levels to address today’s challenges, but needs to invest in new technologies in order to reassert its eroding advantage in cutting-edge military capabilities. This focus on capabilities vice capacity, or number, was reinforced by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent directive to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in which he ordered that service to reduce its intended procurement of the Littoral Combat Ship and apply the savings to acquiring additional advanced tactical aircraft and munitions.
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