Friday, February 17, 2012

2/15/12 RD Bulletin: Pentagon Unveils $525B Base Budget Request

State of Play 

Executive: The Pentagon unveiled its $525 billion base budget request on Monday, including $109 billion for procurement and almost $70 billion for research and development.  According to Reuters, the administration’s $259 billion in savings break out to “reductions of $94 billion in weapons procurement, $69 billion in military personnel, $60 billion in operations and maintenance, $19 billion in military construction and $17 billion in research and development.”   For the first time, the Department of Defense has released the top-line budget request figure for the military intelligence program (MIP) – a total of $19.2 billion. 

Testifying before the Senate Armed Service panel yesterday, Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey defended the president’s budget request and reiterated the fact that the White House has not budgeted or planned for sequestration cuts, and that such cuts pose “unacceptable risk” and would “hollow out” the force.  The Pentagon is also standing by its assertion that sequestration cuts would nullify the recently released strategic guidance and would require DoD to go back to the strategy drawing board.  Panetta said the department stood ready to work with Congress to avoid automatic cuts scheduled to take effect at the end of the calendar year.   

As part of its $155.9 billion budget, the Navy will forgo plans to move an aircraft carrier to Naval Station Mayport, Florida, but will instead send three amphibious assault ships there in 2015.  Meanwhile, the service announced that it will shrink to a fleet of thirty amphibious assault ships as a result of pending budget cuts.  Over the next year, the Navy plans on building ten new ships and purchasing 192 aircraft. 

In announcing how the Army would save $5 billion over the next five years, the service confirmed that it would cancel the Humvee recap program in order to shore up funding for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, as it delays the Ground Combat System and pairs its order of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs). The Army requested $135 billion for its base budget, with an additional $50 billion in war funding.    The United States’ ambassador to South Korea said this week that the U.S. would seek to reduce the  number of military installations in the country from 107 to 48 while maintaining the same amount of troops.
Legislative: Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey received a chilled reception from SASC yesterday morning, where senators expressed dismay over the administration’s $259 billion in planned cuts and voiced alarm over the potential of additional automatic cuts.  GOP lawmakers also accused the administration of issuing a budget that is disconnected from its new “Asia-pivot” strategy.  SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) voiced support for the White House’s roadmap to avoid sequestration cuts while chastising the administration for requesting new rounds of BRAC without proposing further reductions and consolidations of overseas bases.  Following Lt. Col. Daniel Davis’ article in the Armed Forces Journal challenging official assessments of the Afghan conflict, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is again calling for the establishment of an Afghan-Pakistan Study Group. 


The Fiscal Times’ Merrill Goozner names the Pentagon the “winner” in this week’s budget release and questions why the Air Force is retiring two relatively new aircraft programs, the C-27J and Global Hawk drone, even though Air Force leaders have bemoaned the aging inventory of their fleet.  (2/14/12)  

When analyzing the budget request in 2013 dollars, Carl Conetta finds that the administration’s spending request is still far above the Cold War average of $443 billion per year.  (2/13/12)

San Francisco Chronicle: Defense Cuts Are a Drop in the Bucket
The Chronicle’s Carolyn Lochhead surveys BPWG members Winslow Wheeler, Christopher Preble, and Carl Conetta for their thoughts on the recently released defense budget.  (2/13/12)

The White House has proposed a $450 billion cap on war funding over the next ten years, and will use a portion of the savings to fund infrastructure investments domestically.  However, should OCO funding spike in future years, it is unlikely that the lost savings would come out of the DoD base budget.  (2/13/12)

Sandra Erwin finds that the Pentagon’s budget request keeps military spending at historically high levels despite persistently high budget deficits, with Charles Knight commenting that the budget “does not signal a new era of ‘restrained military posture for the United States.’”  (2/13/12)

Other News and Commentary

The Pentagon’s refusal to budget for sequestration cuts represents a challenge to Congress to undo mandated, automatic cuts set to take effect at the beginning of 2013.  (2/14/12)

Mark Thompson argues that the administration has put forth a rather conservative military budget that maintains eleven aircraft carriers, all three legs of the nuclear triad, and the “golden ratio” of budget proportion amongst the services, with Todd Harrison of CSBA commenting, ““Overall, the budget request offers more continuity than change.”  To read more of Harrison’s analysis, click here(2/14/12)

The AP’s Robert Burns reports this week that the administration is considering cuts to the number of deployed nuclear weapons that could reduce the arsenal to as few as 300 strategic weapons.  However, DoD officials caution that any cuts would have to wait for additional U.S.-Russian negotiations, while Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey said that maintaining the status quo set forth in the New START agreement is also a possibility.  (2/14/12)

Philip Ewing reports on the Air Force’s plans for a new, long-range strike bomber, which the service will fund at $6.3 billion over the next five years. (2/14/12)

A new report from IHS Jane’s claims that the Chinese military budget will double to $238.2 by 2015 – the same amount that the entire region spends on defense.  The Lexington Institute’s Daniel Goure argues that, as a result, the Chinese military budget could exceed the United States’ before the end of the decade.  ((2/14/12)

In encouraging the Pentagon to budget for sequestration, Benjamin Friedman writes, “Presumably the Pentagon is aware that it can avoid sequestration but is unwilling to admit it. They believe that by presenting sequestration as the only way to get more savings, they can avoid any cuts. Thus, Pentagon leaders insist that they are not planning on sequestration and expect Congress to change the law.”   (2/13/12)

CAP’s Larry Korb applauds the administration for requesting the first real decrease in military spending in over a decade, but warns that “the plan still avoids many of the hard choices facing the Pentagon – on weapons systems, personnel benefits, and nuclear weapons.”  (2/13/12)

In order to find savings in the defense budget, the Pentagon has delayed a number of expensive weapons programs or pushed them entirely outside of its five year budget window.  (2/15/12)

Reports and Publications:

Executive Office of the President: Fiscal Year 2013 Budget of the U.S. Government  (2/13/12)

Executive Office of the President: Fiscal Year 2013: Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings (2/13/12)

U.S. Department of Defense: Overview – FY2013 Defense Budget  (2/13/12)

U.S. Department of Defense: Summary of the DOD Fiscal 2013 Budget Proposal (2/13/12)

U.S. Department of Defense: Procurement Programs (P-1) (2/13/12)

U.S. Department of Defense: Program Acquisition Costs by Weapon System  (2/13/12)

Congressional Research Service: Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments  (2/13/12)

Congressional Research Service: U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress (2/10/12)  

Congressional Research Service: Military Base Closures: Socioeconomic Impacts  (2/7/12)

Congressional Research Service: Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy  (2/6/12)

U.S. Department of Defense: Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force (January, 2012)