Brookings: Army Needs Quality Over Size

Brookings: Army Needs Quality Over Size

Photo by: U.S. Army

A Brookings Institution report on national security strategy supports a bigger defense budget but says the money is needed to improve capabilities rather than increase the size of the force.

Titled “Quality Over Quantity: U.S. Military Strategy and Spending in the Trump Years,” the January report supports the $733 billion or larger defense budget for fiscal 2020 being discussed by the Trump administration if the money is invested in modernization and readiness rather than growth. A bigger force “is least important to the U.S. military in the foreseeable future,” the report says, warning this could drain resources from other needs.

“The focus should be on quality over quantity,” says the report. “The U.S. armed forces need to innovate and invest in breakthrough capabilities, and to improve immediate readiness, but they can do so at their current overall size. Investing in modernization and readiness rather than growth, paired with more clever and efficient management of the military, can allow today’s U.S. military of roughly 1.3 million active-duty troops, just over 900,000 reservists, and almost 750,000 full-time civilians to do the job. By giving up most plans for expansion, the military services can ensure that modernization and readiness get the resources they crucially require.”

“Today’s already excellent American military is big enough to meet the reasonable requirements of ongoing commitments and great-power competition—provided, that is, that it improves further. It needs to repair readiness,” the report says. “Most of all, it must be modernized for greater lethality, and made more resilient and survivable against the kinds of cyber, anti-satellite, and other asymmetric attacks future adversaries would be sure to employ.”

Read the full report: