Uncertainty Complicates Future Budget Planning

January 24, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The changing world and an increasing number of potential threats are vexing planners who are striving to restructure the military while cutting costs. Allies and potential foes alike are undertaking force shifts that may portend or even cause new threats that must be addressed by the U.S. military, according to a panel of experts at West 2012 in San Diego. Brig. Gen. Daniel J. O'Donohue, USMC, director, Capabilities Development Directorate, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, declared that the future belongs to maritime forces. He sees a basic integration among sea strike, sea shield and sea basing, which is necessary to face looming threats. "If and when we come out of Afghanistan, there are threats out there that are compelling," he declared. Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, USN, deputy commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, observed that the focus on China has captured a lot of attention to the very real threat of anti-access on the high seas. Much of that attention is pushing the U.S. military into an area of standoff precision strike, but that capability alone is not enough to deal with the multitude of potential threats that may emerge. Gen. Spiese noted that amid contested economic zones, many nations are developing or improving their capabilities in amphibious operations even while reducing land forces. Australia has moved its exchange officers from the British Army to the Royal Marines. Japan also is looking at developing an amphibious capability. And, China is developing a range of maritime capabilities. All these factors must be considered for force planning without a high degree of certainty for any potential outcomes.

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