Gates: Defense Needs $540 Billion for Fiscal ’11

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2011 — Con­gress must pro­vide $540 bil­lion to the Defense Depart­ment for fis­cal 2011 or the depart­ment will be in dan­ger of not being able to per­form its mis­sion, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today
Gates also said he will look at “all legal options” to shut down the extra engine for the joint strike fight­er — call­ing it a waste of $3 bil­lion.

Gates made the state­ments dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion of the fis­cal 2012 defense bud­get request at the Pen­ta­gon. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma is ask­ing for a base bud­get of $553 bil­lion and an over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions request of $117.8 bil­lion.

But what Gates has called the cri­sis on his doorstep — the pos­si­bil­i­ty that DOD will oper­ate through the remain­der of fis­cal 2011 on a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion — drew sharp remarks from the sec­re­tary.

“Exact­ly a year ago, the pres­i­dent request­ed $549 bil­lion to oper­ate the Depart­ment of Defense dur­ing fis­cal year 2011,” Gates said. “If forced to oper­ate under a full-year con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion, the depart­ment would only receive about $526 bil­lion.”

This reduc­tion of $23 bil­lion is mag­ni­fied because it comes five months into the fis­cal year, he said.

“I raise this point today because I am con­cerned that the debate over the defense bud­get in recent days and weeks is becom­ing increas­ing­ly dis­tant from the strate­gic and oper­a­tional real­i­ty — dis­tant, in oth­er words, from the real world,” he said. “In fact, sug­ges­tions to cut defense by this or that large num­ber have large­ly become exer­cis­es in sim­ple math — divorced from seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tions of capa­bil­i­ties, risk, and the lev­el of resources need­ed to pro­tect this country’s secu­ri­ty and vital nation­al inter­ests around the world.”

Gates said he under­stands the depart­ment will not get the $549 bil­lion asked for last year. “It is my judg­ment that the Depart­ment of Defense needs an appro­pri­a­tion of at least $540 bil­lion for fis­cal year 2011 for the U.S. mil­i­tary to prop­er­ly car­ry out its mis­sion, main­tain readi­ness and pre­pare for the future,” he said.

Gates repeat­ed­ly and con­sis­tent­ly has called for an end to the joint strike fight­er extra engine pro­gram. Oba­ma and the mil­i­tary chiefs have agreed with the sec­re­tary, and in a state­ment released May 28, Oba­ma vowed to veto any leg­is­la­tion that pro­vides for the extra engine.

“We con­sid­er it an unnec­es­sary and extrav­a­gant expense, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing this peri­od of fis­cal con­trac­tion,” Gates said today.

The sec­re­tary said that because Con­gress has pro­vid­ed “ambigu­ous guid­ance” on the engine, he has fund­ed the pro­gram on a month-to-month basis, hop­ing the Con­gress would resolve the mat­ter.

“How­ev­er, that also means that the Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers are spend­ing $28 mil­lion a month for an excess and unjus­ti­fied pro­gram that is slat­ed for ter­mi­na­tion,” the sec­re­tary said.

The pres­i­dent, the mil­i­tary ser­vices and I con­tin­ue to oppose this extra engine and, when the cur­rent con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion expires, I will look at all avail­able legal options to close down this pro­gram.

“It would be a waste of near­ly $3 bil­lion in a time of eco­nom­ic dis­tress, and the mon­ey is need­ed for high­er pri­or­i­ty defense efforts,” he added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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