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This Note surveys major national and DOD trends of interest to defense planners since 1945. In general, the Defense Department's budget has reflected the world situation fairly reliably. As an element of the national economy and the federal budget, the defense burden has generally followed a downward trend since the Korean War. Nondefense federal and net public budgets have grown (and can be expected to continue to grow), pressuring defense budgets. Procurement will be the probable defense budget battleground of the 1990s. Marginal adjustments and improvements to the budget problem could yield the most important dividends. Examination of the historical record shows that trends do exist, that they are stable, and that there are good reasons for this. Those who call for radical action on the budget and defense program should have the burden of proof. Excessive change, or too abrupt a set of changes, leads to turbulence or worse and jeopardizes the ability to shape the course of strategic events.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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