Setting Priorities in the Age of Austerity

Setting Priorities in the Age of Austerity: British, French, and German Experiences

Michael Shurkin
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 62
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  • Book Info
    Setting Priorities in the Age of Austerity
    Book Description:

    Examines the British, French, and German armies’ approaches to accommodating significant budget cuts while attempting to sustain their commitment to full spectrum operations. Specifically, it looks at the choices these armies are making with respect to how they spend dwindling resources: What force structure do they identify as optimal? How much readiness do they regard as necessary? Which capabilities are they abandoning?

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8055-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  9. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    This study examines how the British, French, and German armies are responding to significant budget cuts imposed on them by their governments. The purpose is to derive insight from the evolution of Europe’s most important armies’ capabilities and the thinking behind the compromises they are making as they set spending priorities according to their understanding of risk and the future role of their armies in military conflict. As looming budget cuts in the United States spur debate about spending priorities and future conflict, the U.S. military can benefit not just from tracking what its strongest allies can and cannot do...

  10. 2. Britain
    (pp. 5-16)

    The British Army was already struggling to absorb significant funding cuts while sustaining operations in Afghanistan—a combination that has all but exsanguinated the force. Then, in July 2012, military planners announced not only that the cuts had not gone far enough, but that the scale of the necessary reductions made it impossible to get away with simply trimming the existing force. On the contrary, the planners decided, it was necessary to “go back to first principles” and rethink both the army’s mission and the force structure required by that mission. The new plan, referred to as “Army 2020,” calls...

  11. 3. France
    (pp. 17-28)

    The French army presently is enjoying something of an Indian summer. It still maintains a full spectrum of capabilities—including the capacity for combined arms maneuver warfare—as well as a significant capacity for autonomous and sustained action. However, that may be coming to an end. A new Livre Blanc (White Book) that will spell out the army’s next steps is expected soon, after several months’ delay. Among those steps might be significant cuts. If so, it must be stressed that the French army is already operating at the tipping point. Any further cuts would force the French army to...

  12. 4. Germany
    (pp. 29-36)

    The German military, perhaps more than even the British military, faces a period of profound uncertainty. Although it cannot be described as drained of resources in the same manner as the British military, the German military has been subject to a series of deep cuts while being buffeted by the shifting winds of German politics and economic conditions, all without the British or French army’s sense of purpose. The German military is committed to a full spectrum of capabilities and has been going through a number of reforms intended to change its force structure, primarily to make it more like...

  13. 5. Conclusion
    (pp. 37-40)

    Successive budget cuts driven by fiscal considerations rather than changes in the security environment have forced Europe’s three largest and most capable armies to scramble to find ways to maintain their commitment to the full spectrum of capabilities while compromising on size, sustainability, and readiness. Possessing the full spectrum of capabilities has arguably evolved into more of an ideal or an aspiration than a reality, as British, French, and German armies are increasingly obliged to make compromises based on their assessment of risk and their effort to arbitrate among competing priorities. Moreover, they have reached the point where there is...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 41-46)