Defense Budget Request Squares Priorities, Resources
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014 The fiscal year 2015 defense budget request works to square priorities with resources, Defense Department officials said today while calling for a 1 percent pay raise for the military.
President Barack Obama’s defense topline request presented to Congress today is set at $496 billion – a number agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act last year.
The request supports the defense strategic guidance and begins the recovery from the damage caused by last year’s budget sequester. Officials said the fiscal 2015 budget is designed to protect capabilities supporting the three department priorities: defending the homeland, building global defense and winning wars decisively.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previewed the budget request last week. Both stressed the need for balance among personnel, readiness and modernization in the Pentagon’s funding.
The request continues the push for a smaller more agile force that’s able to fight terrorists and counter violent extremists as well as fighting and winning across the spectrum of battle.
The fiscal 2015 budget seeks to repair the damage caused by the deep spending cuts imposed by sequestration. Readiness was most adversely affected, officials said, and money from the budget act above sequestration levels is earmarked for readiness accounts across the services.
The budget request also continues to look for efficiencies and to push for institutional reform, officials said. The department will continue to eliminate duplication, tighten up on personnel costs, reduce headquarters and consolidate infrastructure. “The department has learned from prior drawdowns that it is impossible to generate all the needed savings just through efficiencies,” an overview report said.
Officials stressed they are seeking to slow growth of pay, compensation and health care – but not to cut anything. These costs have been growing faster than in the civilian world, they explained, and the department cannot keep up the current pace. While seeking a 1 percent military pay raise in fiscal 2015, the budget request would slow the growth of basic allowances for housing as well as seek changes in the military health care system.
Modernization is another key to DOD success, officials said, noting that the military must be able to fight the wars today and in the future. Stressing that keeping the American military’s qualitative edge is imperative, defense leaders continually have said they don’t want American service members to eke out a victory, but to dominate in combat.
The budget continues to give prominence to the improved lethality, survivability and affordability of the next generation of weapons systems. This includes the next-generation bomber, new aircraft carriers, the joint strike fighter program, the KC-46 air-to-air refueling tanker and more.
America also will enhance cyberspace, space, missile defense and precision strike capabilities, official said.
While the topline is agreed upon, Congress will ultimately decide the overall figure on Pentagon spending in debate and negotiations over the coming months.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)