This paper examines the characteristics of the defense buildup and addresses the following questions:
– What were the origins of the buildup?
– How was the money spent?
– How did the buildup affect U.S. military capability as measured by changes in force structure, the number and quality of modern weapons, the quality of military personnel, and force readiness and sustainability?
– Was the buildup affordable?
– To what extent did the buildup resolve the perceived national security problems at the beginning of the period?
– Was the buildup worthwhile?
– What effects will the buildup have on the U.S. defense budget and program in the near future?
– What lessons of the buildup period should guide U.S. defense policy during the next administration?
Some of those questions are difficult, and there will continue to be disagreement over the answers, even among defense analysts with access to classified data. A better understanding of the issues by the broader community of public officials and voters, however, is necessary to rebuild a consensus on U.S. defense policy. This paper is intended to serve that objective.