Pentagon budget: 4 ways White House wants to change the military

Here are the top four things the new Defense budget reveals about the White House’s priorities for the US military.

4. Special Operations Forces are still everyone’s darlings

Maya Alleruzzo/AP/File
US Special Operations Forces are seen during a joint operation with Afghan National Army in Afghanistan's Farah Province in this 2009 file photo.

Special Operations Forces have capabilities “uniquely suited to the most likely missions of the future,” Hagel says. “Most notably,” he adds, these include counterterrorism and crisis response operations. 

As a result, at a time when the Army is decreasing from 520,000 active duty soldiers today to roughly 445,000, for example, Special Operations Forces (SOF) will grow from roughly 66,000 today to 69,700 in five years.

“Clearly Special Operations Forces have been very effective in what we’ve been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and in terrorism operations around the globe,” says Todd Harrison, senior fellow in defense studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.

That said, he warns that the Pentagon shouldn’t go overboard with this. “The one thing is that you can’t just keep making SOF forces larger and larger, because at some point then these forces cease to be ‘special’; they cease to be elite,” he warns. “They become too much of a good thing.”

4 of 4

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.