Reserve-Component Funding at Historic Highs
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 18, 2007 Funding for reserve forces will hit a historic high if Congress approves the component’s full fiscal 2008 $18.1 billion request, a Defense Department official testified this week.
The 2008 reserve-component baseline budget increase is 6 percent greater than the overall growth of the department’s budget since fiscal 2001, Jack Dave Patterson, principal deputy undersecretary of defense, comptroller, told the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves at a public hearing here May 16. Funding requests for the reserve component are 73 percent greater than fiscal 2001 totals, as opposed to 67 percent for overall Defense Department funding.
The fiscal 2008 global war on terror request includes $6.5 billion in funding for reserve equipment, training, and recruiting and retention. The biggest chunk -- $4.9 billion -- is earmarked for equipment, Patterson said in his written statement to the commission.
“So, we are working very hard to ensure that all of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are fully trained and equipped to successfully carry out their missions,” Patterson said.
He told commission members that Guard and reserve funding and equipping needs follow the same process as the needs of other department organizations. “I would emphasize that those needs are presented, debated, validated and prioritized in the very same way as the needs of other organizations,” Patterson said.
He said all reserve components are integrated into the planning, programming and budgeting process of their respective services.
“The services rigorously prioritize their funding requirements from the highest to the lowest priority, with the two highest priorities being those forces who are either deploying or about to deploy,” Patterson said.
After service reviews, the budgets are reviewed, analyzed and balanced across the Defense Department. By the time the budget reaches Congress, it “represents the department’s best judgment of what is needed to accomplish the mission.”
Patterson’s testimony came the same day as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ call for department policy changes revising how funding and resourcing for the reserves, including civil support requirements, are determined.
Initially, the commission was to report on the proposed “National Guard Empowerment Act,” which aimed to increase the authority of National Guard leaders. Instead, the commission broadened its report -- Strengthening America's Defenses in the New Security Environment -- to include U.S. Northern Command, the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, and state governors.
It is now hearing testimony on the impacts of resourcing policy, programming, and budgeting on the readiness of reserve components, and the impacts of frequent and lengthy deployments on employers and families.