Strategy, Not Math: The Emerging Consensus on National Security in an Era of Austerity

Featuring Steve Ellis

In November 2010 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates complained that the military cuts outlined by the Bowles‐​Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission were exercises in “math, not strategy.” Since then, a number of high‐​profile studies have done the opposite: they have focused on revising the Pentagon’s roles and missions following the end of the war in Iraq and ongoing troop reductions in Afghanistan, and documented the savings that might result from a change in strategy. The authors of three recent studies will discuss and compare their major recommendations. Although these reports differ on the military’s core missions and the force structure those missions may require, they agree that change is needed. Wise strategists must recognize the new fiscal reality and decide to adapt before hard choices are forced upon them.