Budget Request Continues Defense Reform Agenda
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2010 The fiscal 2011 Defense Department budget request continues an overall reform agenda and seeks a total request of $708 billion in budget authority, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer said.
Comptroller Robert F. Hale said the total includes $159 billion in overseas contingency operations, or war spending.
The so-called base budget request – the budget before the contingency funds – is $549 billion in fiscal 2011, compared to $531 billion this year. After adjusting for inflation, this represents 1.8 percent real growth, Hale said.
“It’s modest, but compared to what other federal agencies will be getting in this budget, we’re doing well,” he said. Real growth will average about 1 percent over the next five years.
The budget stresses Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ long-held belief that everything in the department starts with its people. The base budget contains $138.5 billion for personnel programs. It includes a 1.4 percent pay raise for military and civilian personnel – equal to the full Employment Cost Index.
The budget increases basic allowance for housing by an average of 4.2 percent in fiscal 2011 and includes a 3.4 percent increase for the basic allowance for subsistence. The budget request also fully funds military health-care programs at $50.7 billion.
The stresses of the wars and repeated deployments on families are being addressed with $8.1 billion for family support programs. This includes funds for child support and youth programs, spouse employment, commissaries and Department of Defense Education Activity schools. The programs also include financial planning aid, spousal education and a Military OneSource call center that now handles roughly 2,000 calls per day.
School construction gets a major plus-up, Hale said. DoDEA has 192 schools, and some haven’t been modernized. “A number of them are in poor condition infrastructure-wise,” he said. “The education is fine, but the instruction would be better if we had better buildings. So we doubled the construction budget for DoDEA, and we’ll fix most of the schools over the next five years.”
The budget also invests about $1 billion in research and care for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. “Short of winning the wars, there is nothing more important than taking care of our wounded warriors,” the comptroller said. “Overall, we’ll spend about $2.2 billion on wounded warrior care in 2011.”
Another major priority in the fiscal 2011 budget request is funding the military to focus on today’s wars. Helicopters are crucial to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget funds more training and will add two Army combat aviation brigades. The budget contains $9.6 billion to modernize the current helicopter fleet – about 6 percent over what was enacted in fiscal 2010.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are crucial to commanders and troops in today’s wars. The budget proposes increasing the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities inherent in these aircraft. The budget calls for increasing the number of UAVs “so that we can increase the combat air patrols from 37 to 65,” Hale said. “We will max production of the Reaper – the most advanced version of the Predator. It’s at 24 in 2010; it will go to 36 in 2011, and then up to 48.
Special operations forces will get a big plus-up in the fiscal 2011 budget, with a raise of 6 percent of funding in just one year. “We’re adding 2,800 people to the special operations command in fiscal 2011, and through fiscal 2015 about 10,000 military and civilian overall,” Hale said. “Special operations forces are particularly important in irregular warfare such as we see in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The department not only is increasing the size of the forces, but also is placing the funding in the base budget. “About a third of the Special Operations Command budget is now in our overseas contingency operations,” the comptroller said. “By 2015, our plan is to move all of that funding back into the base budget. Secretary Gates feels this is an enduring capability, and it shouldn’t be tied to wartime funding.”
Procurement reform also is high on the agenda. “We’re also seeking to continue reforming what we buy and how we buy it,” Hale said.
Last year, Gates capped the F-22 Raptor fighter jet program, terminated the Army Future Combat Systems program and restructured Navy shipbuilding. “We will continue that this year,” Hale said.
This budget will end the C-17 Globemaster III transport jet program. “We bought 223 of the planes – they are great aircraft – but we have all we need now, and as far as we can see in the future,” the comptroller said. “So we propose ending that program and have included shut-down costs for the C-17 line.”
The budget request reflects a decision not to buy an alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter. “We looked carefully at this program, and have decided that we should not procure this engine,” Hale said. The alternate engine would require another supply chain and would cost $2.5 billion – money desperately needed elsewhere, he explained.
Other programs cancelled include the Navy’s next-generation cruiser, a new Navy intelligence aircraft and the Net-enabled Command Capability program. Also cancelled is the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, which after 10 years and $500 million in development funds, still doesn’t work. It will be replaced by service programs.
While the focus is on re-balancing the force to fight today’s wars, the budget also looks to the future, Hale said. The biggest single program in the budget is the F-35.
“We have restructured the F-35 this year to add about 13 months to its development period and buy more test aircraft,” Hale said. “We’ll buy 42 aircraft in our base budget in fiscal 2011 and one in the contingency budget for a total of 43.” The total buy is $11 billion in fiscal 2011.
The budget has $864 million in research and development money for the new aerial tanker buy. The contract award is expected in the summer. The initial buy will be 179 aircraft to replace the current KC-135 fleet.
The shipbuilding plan calls for 10 new ships in fiscal 2011 – two Virginia-class subs, two DDG-51 destroyers, two littoral combat ships, one landing helicopter assault replacement, one mobile landing platform and two joint high-speed vessels – one each for the Navy and Army. The plan over five years calls for 53 new ships.
The budget contains $3.2 billion to support Army brigade combat team modernization. The budget also contains funds to rapidly replace the Bradley fighting vehicle.
The fiscal 2011 budget also contains the seeds for the next-generation bomber. “Over the next five years, we’re spending more than $4 billion in long-range strike,” Hale said. “Part is the [next-generation] bomber, but we’re also upgrading our existing bombers – the B-2 and the B-52,” he said. Officials also are looking at a prompt global strike capability – possibly a missile, he added.
Hale said he is confident the department is beginning to strike the right balance between funding today’s wars and funding the force needed for the future.
“It’s a hard judgment to know when you are there,” he said. “We’re not good at guessing where we will fight in five years, so we need a broad and capable portfolio. We need to focus on rebalancing the military to fight today’s wars while not losing sight of the need for a broad-based capability. We’re moving in the right direction, but probably not there yet.”