Rick Maze
The Army Times
March 16, 2009

The global economic crisis is putting a three-sided squeeze on the defense budget that could leave the nation at greater risk, U.S. intelligence analysts and outside experts warn Congress.

In testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services committees, witnesses warned that the world, in many cases, will become a more dangerous place at the same time that many nations will have less to spend on their national security programs.

[efoods]This puts a greater burden on the U.S. military, which also is going to face pressure to cut expenses.

The first factor in the squeeze is the near-term outlook for defense spending — which is decidedly downward.

“There will likely be fewer resources available for defense and foreign assistance,” said Robert Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Reduced availability of resources for defense makes it even more critical that U.S. planners determine priorities.”

For example, Haas said preparing to fight a large-scale conventional war might not be the highest priority, giving the large lead that the U.S. has on the rest of the world in terms of conventional capabilities.

Instead, capabilities for destroying weapons and targets associated with terrorism might be a higher priority, said Haas, as he and other specialists testified March 11 before the House Armed Services Committee.

Second, allies will be able to contribute less for common defense. “Economic constraints have at times been an excuse for allies not to do more for the common defense of the West,” said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller, who also testified March 11.

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