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The Six Guiding Principles of a Next Generation Defense Budget System: It Must Be Continuous

Josh Martin

June 13, 2023

The Six Guiding Principles of a Next Generation Defense Budget System: It Must Be Continuous-featured-image
In this article


    This article is part of a series of articles focusing on the elements a next generation budget defense system must include to overcome the challenges of our current system.

    The Challenge

    The current defense budget approach, characterized by episodic and disconnected processes, falls short in providing adequate insight into historical performance and trends. This makes it difficult to shape present and future strategic planning effectively. As global threats evolve and nations like China pose increasingly complex challenges to America's security, the need for continuous planning becomes even more critical.

    Continuous planning allows stakeholders to monitor goals, metrics, and milestones for existing objectives while simultaneously seeking new strategic priorities. Financial leaders can connect dynamic, external factors – from macro trends such as inflation to individual events such as a natural disaster – with responses that provide the transparency and clarity leadership needs for decision dominance.

    Not only is continuous planning faster than episodic planning, but it also encompasses high-impact activities that give organizations a material advantage. The ability to model what-if scenarios and courses of action without limits allows decision-makers to anticipate what might happen and how to change, recalibrate, or modify plans with minimal impact on the mission.

    China demands we must plan continuously

    China's increasing military capabilities and assertiveness pose significant challenges to America's security and global influence. To counter this threat, the United States must adopt a more agile and forward-looking approach to defense budgeting and strategic planning. Continuous planning will play a vital role in this effort by:

    1. Enabling rapid response to evolving threats: As China develops new military technologies and expands its presence in contested areas like the South China Sea, the United States must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively. Continuous planning allows decision-makers to stay ahead of these developments and adjust strategies accordingly.
    2. Enhancing interoperability with allies: Countering China's growing influence requires close collaboration with regional allies and partners. Continuous planning can help the United States align its military objectives with those of its allies, ensuring a more cohesive and effective response to shared security challenges.
    3. Supporting long-term strategic competition: The rivalry between the United States and China is likely to be a long-term competition that will demand sustained investment in advanced technologies and capabilities. Continuous planning can help the DoD make better-informed decisions about where to allocate resources and prioritize investments, ensuring America's continued technological edge.

    The Path Forward

    In conclusion, continuous planning is a vital component of a modern defense budgeting system that can help the United States address the challenges posed by a rapidly changing global threat environment. By embracing this approach, the DoD can enhance its agility, responsiveness, and strategic alignment, ensuring that it remains well-positioned to counter emerging threats like China and protect America's security and interests for years to come.

    Read the rest of the series

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