Strategic Communication of Future U.S. Department of Defense Budgets

  • Lieutenant Colonel Matthew W. Higer

Senior leaders can significantly enhance the impact of the Department of Defense budget communication strategy by adding macroeconomic context via reference to: defense as a percent of Gross Domestic Product, historical defense expenditures, international defense level-of-effort comparisons, and the relative size of major federal outlays. To enhance the “austerity drives increased risk” message resonance, macroeconomic context should complement, not replace, the threat-informed, strategy-based budget communication paradigm. Budget number magnitudes are often incomprehensible, but tangible level-of-effort comparisons are insightful. The federal budget informs a fiscal environmental assessment, including political risk, as part of a disciplined update to defense budget communication strategy. The ultimate objective of the strategy should be to communicate defense resource requirements using ways meaningful to the U.S. Congress and the American public, thus significantly mitigating fiscal risk to national security.