Sequestration is just one portion of the defense reduction contained within the Budget Control Act of 2011 and not DOD’s only fiscal challenge. Coming on top of several other existing budget factors is what makes sequestration, in combination, a daunting issue for DOD. The first of these is the Barack Obama administration’s previously mandated $487 billion reduction in defense spending over ten years. Together, these total nearly $1 trillion in defense cuts over the next decade.
In addition, several fiscal challenges have developed over time that not only shape today’s defense budget, but have greater influence on the shape of budgets to come. Those internal trends influence what is different for this era of budget downturn and are disruptive enough, regardless of whether sequestration occurs or not. This constrains choices available to defense planners—with sequestration merely magnifying the intensity—and the overall context must be considered in charting the course ahead. As this article goes to press, the final outcome of deliberations to avoid or modify the so-called fiscal cliff and sequestration is unknown. Regardless, aside from sequestration, these other defense-spending trends point to historically different conditions for this fiscal downturn.
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