Executive summary

  • The most useful way to judge the adequacy of US defense spending is to assess how well it allows the US to safeguard its interests and pursue its interests at an adequate level of risk.
  • American military dominance has benefited the US and the world as a whole.
  • Advocates of greater investment in defense are concerned that cuts to US defense spending could jeopardize America’s ability to pursue its traditional role in the world.
DownloadThe US Defence Budget

In light of ongoing cutbacks to the defense budget, research and development and acquisition programs will be severely disrupted. In order to gauge the adequacy of US defense spending, the extent to which it allows the US to safeguard its strategic interests and pursue its objectives at an acceptable level of risk is used. Over time, the US has consistently pursued four objectives in the region, namely acting to defend US territory, protecting its allies, assuring access to the global commons in peacetime and commanding them in wartime and seeking to preserve a favourable balance of power across Eurasia. The two dominant views in relation to reconciling ends and means are accepting greater risk or increasing resources. In a period of limited and increasingly constrained defense resources, both the US and Australia should look for defense options that promise especially high leverage in the context of the changing military balance in the Asia-Pacific region. This could be achieved through developing an integrated ISR network in the Western Pacific, bolstering allied undersea warfare, expanding munitions interoperability, increasing the number of joint alliance facilities and selectively increasing investment in high-payoff capabilities.