Defense Budgets and Civilian Oversight, Occasional Paper #9
Giraldo, Jeanne Kinney
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As countries democratize, newly-elected governments find that they must quickly assert control over the budget, especially the defense budget, if they are to meet their policy goals for all sectors and assert civilian control over the military. Fiscally, the process by which budget decisions are made should be structured so that defense spending does not “break the bank” by exceeding the government’s capacity to pay. Sectorally, defense should compete with other government ministries so that the final overall budget is a monetary expression of the priorities of the nation, its choice between “guns and butter.” Within the defense sector, the allocation of resources for training, personnel, and equipment should reflect the roles and missions for the armed forces established during a process of national security planning. Finally, the power of the purse provides civilians with a key lever of control over the military: government preferences are more likely to be taken into account when they are backed by the provision or withholding of resources.
Occasional Paper # 9
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