A Comparative Risk Assessment of Today's Post-War Army Drawdown

  • Colonel Richard C. Bell, Jr.

Following periods of major conflict, reductions to United States (U.S.) defense budgets and military forces are the norm as the nation reprioritizes resources from international to domestic concerns. The two most recent military drawdowns in U.S. history include the post-Cold War drawdown of the 1990s and the current drawdown that began in 2011. Driven by the contentious Budget Control Act of 2011, however, today's drawdown of Regular Army forces presents a greater risk to national security than the post-Cold War drawdown. While the current drawdown promises to be less significant in terms of total personnel reductions, it is also less consistent with stated U.S. foreign policy goals, it is hampered to a larger extent by domestic political disagreements, and it begins with more internal program risk. Accordingly, the Army should revise its current strategic messaging to better communicate the challenges of the current drawdown to both external and internal audiences.