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Dakota L. Wood, who served America for two decades in the U.S. Marine Corps, is the senior research fellow for defense programs at The Heritage Foundation.
The House Armed Services Committee and its Senate counterpart have finally passed their respective versions of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, with the House coming in at $733 billion and the Senate matching, in general terms, the Trump administration’s request for $750 billion.
Difference - Amount - Money - % - Context
While the $17 billion difference between the two is a significant amount of money on its own, it represents a mere 2% or so in the context of the overall defense budget, and therefore should be easily reconciled in conference committee negotiations—were it not for the significant difference of opinion on defense that it represents between the bipartisan (25-2) Senate bill and Democrat-crafted (33-24) House bill.
In either case—$733 billion or $750 billion—the defense budget is a lot of money. But is it enough? Or too much?
Amount - Money - Buys - Capability - Ability
Well, that depends on what one thinks either amount of money buys in military capability and how that relates to the ability of our military to fulfill its mission—namely, to defend our country, our citizens, and our interests worldwide.
In the work we do here at The Heritage Foundation, we try to convey what it takes to have a military that is up to the task of winning in combat, especially when facing a major competitor.
Nation - Competent - Something - Home - Force
Our nation expects its military to be relevant, competent, and effective—not simply something to be kept at home as a force in name only.
But that doesn’t mean it should be casually committed to action, or policies adopted that are effectively “checks” written that our military might have to “cash,” without understanding what such a commitment actually means in implementation.
Further, our military shouldn’t be committed without having been given the proper resources for...
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