The proposal, released on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.
Officials who saw an early draft of the announcement acknowledge that budget cuts will impose greater risk on the armed forces if they are again ordered to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time: Success would take longer, they say, and there would be a larger number of casualties. Officials also say that a smaller military could invite adventurism by adversaries.
“You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war,” a senior Pentagon official said.
Outlines of some of the budget initiatives, which are subject to congressional approval, have surfaced, an indication that even in advance of its release the budget is certain to come under political attack.