Obama Asks for $671 Billion Defense Budget in Fiscal 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s fis­cal 2012 defense bud­get request con­tin­ues the department’s reform agen­da, but pro­tects per­son­nel and fam­i­ly pro­grams, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said.
Over­all, the Defense Depart­ment bud­get is declin­ing, with fund­ing for over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions drop­ping by $41.5 bil­lion, due main­ly to mil­i­tary oper­a­tions wind­ing down in Iraq, offi­cials said.

The pres­i­dent is ask­ing Con­gress for $671 bil­lion for the Defense Depart­ment in fis­cal 2012, which starts Oct. 1. The bud­get calls for $553 bil­lion in the “base bud­get” and $117.8 bil­lion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By appro­pri­a­tion, mil­i­tary per­son­nel accounts are $142.8 bil­lion of the base bud­get. Oper­a­tions and main­te­nance is $204.4 bil­lion, pro­cure­ment is $113 bil­lion and research and devel­op­ment is $75.3 bil­lion.

The Army por­tion of the base bud­get is $144.9 bil­lion, the Navy and Marine Corps por­tion is $161.4 bil­lion, and the Air Force share is set at $150 bil­lion. Defense Depart­ment spend­ing is pegged at $96.8 bil­lion.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates con­tin­u­al­ly has stressed his con­cern for the peo­ple por­tion of the bud­get. The sec­re­tary has called ser­vice mem­bers the “military’s great­est strate­gic asset,” and is putting his mon­ey where his mouth is. The president’s bud­get request calls for the nation’s 2.3 mil­lion ser­vice mem­bers to receive a 1.6 per­cent pay raise, equal to the Employ­ment Cost Index, an indi­ca­tor that tracks move­ment in the cost of labor.

The bud­get funds an end-strength for the ser­vices 65,000 peo­ple greater than in fis­cal 2007. The Army’s end strength will be 547,000, with the Marine’s com­ing in at 202,100. The Navy’s end strength is set at 325,000, and the Air Force at 332,800. All told, the department’s end strength will be 1,408,000 in fis­cal 2012 if this bud­get is approved. In fis­cal 2007, the end strength was 1,328,500, and the Army and Marine Corps in par­tic­u­lar were stressed by repeat­ed deploy­ments and not enough gar­ri­son time in between.

The 2012 end strength will help the ser­vices meet the goal of one year deployed and two years at home. This “dwell time” is cru­cial to the health of the force, offi­cials said. The bud­get pro­vides for the basic allowance for hous­ing to rise 4.2 per­cent, and the basic allowance for sub­sis­tence by 3.4 per­cent.

The bud­get includes $52.5 bil­lion for the Mil­i­tary Health Sys­tem. The sys­tem, which has 9.6 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries, has seen its bud­get more than dou­ble since fis­cal 2001, when it was $19 bil­lion.

This year’s request will attempt to rein those costs in. Sys­tem­i­cal­ly, the bud­get calls for reduc­ing over­head, stan­dard­iz­ing pro­cure­ment and oth­er ideas to lever­age the buy­ing pow­er of such a huge enter­prise. The mon­ey also will fund pre­ven­tive care, immu­niza­tions and pro­grams to com­bat obe­si­ty, tobac­co use and alco­hol abuse.

The bud­get also calls for a mod­est pre­mi­um increase for work­ing-age mil­i­tary retirees enrolled in the TRICARE Prime mil­i­tary health plan. The bud­get sets the increas­es at $2.50 per month for indi­vid­u­als and $5 per month for fam­i­lies in fis­cal 2012, and for the pre­mi­ums to be indexed to Medicare infla­tion there­after.

The med­ical fund­ing request also is aimed at pro­vid­ing ser­vices for wound­ed troops. The mon­ey will fund pro­grams to pro­vide a seam­less tran­si­tion from the Defense Department’s med­ical sys­tem to that of the Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment for wound­ed ser­vice mem­bers who leave the mil­i­tary. It bud­get request also pro­vide $1.1 bil­lion for research into trau­mat­ic brain injury and psy­cho­log­i­cal health issues stem­ming from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense lead­ers under­stand that mil­i­tary fam­i­lies also serve the coun­try, offi­cials said, not­ing that Gates has vowed to pro­tect mil­i­tary fam­i­lies from the bud­getary ax. The fis­cal 2012 bud­get shifts fund­ing for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies into the base bud­get, ensur­ing these pro­grams don’t dis­ap­pear as com­bat deploy­ments and war fund­ing decline, offi­cials said.

The bud­get pro­vides fund­ing for child care space for more than 200,000 chil­dren, as well as fund­ing for fam­i­ly sup­port cen­ters and morale, wel­fare and recre­ation pro­grams. The bud­get funds the edu­ca­tion of almost 95,000 stu­dents at DOD Edu­ca­tion Activ­i­ty schools in 12 coun­tries and almost 35,000 stu­dents in sev­en states, Puer­to Rico and Guam.

More than a half bil­lion dol­lars will go to replac­ing or mod­ern­iz­ing schools at Fort Ben­ning, Ga.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; New Riv­er, N.C.; and Dahlgren, Va. The mon­ey also will replace or mod­ern­ize five schools in Ger­many, two in Japan, one in Italy and one in the Unit­ed King­dom.

The more than 600,000 civil­ians in the DOD work force will not receive a raise in cal­en­dar years 2011 and 2012 as part of the larg­er gov­ern­men­twide freeze on wages. The depart­ment intends to hold the civil­ian work force at fis­cal 2010 lev­els, though excep­tions will be made for the on-going acqui­si­tion work force improve­ment strat­e­gy, offi­cials said.

The bud­get also seeks increas­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for flex­i­ble work sched­ules, includ­ing tele­work­ing options.

But the focus remains on the cur­rent wars. About 48,500 Amer­i­can troops remain in Iraq, and about 98,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, offi­cials not­ed, and Afghanistan and Pak­istan remain the focal point in the war on extrem­ist groups such as al-Qai­da. Some U.S. and coali­tion forces are fight­ing against extrem­ists while oth­ers are train­ing the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces to take on the secu­ri­ty mis­sion in the coun­try. Last year, 30,000 more Amer­i­can troops surged into Afghanistan, and NATO nations and oth­er coali­tion con­tributed 10,000 more.

These forces have been suc­cess­ful in arrest­ing Tal­iban and al-Qai­da forces’ momen­tum and have turned the tide, offi­cial said. Now, they added, the forces are expand­ing their “secu­ri­ty bub­bles” and look­ing for ways to make the gains per­ma­nent.

Most of the $117.8 bil­lion in the over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions fund — some $67 bil­lion — goes to oper­a­tions. Train­ing Afghan forces con­sumes the next-largest amount, at $12.8 bil­lion.

The bud­get invests $2.6 bil­lion into defeat­ing the biggest killer of Amer­i­can per­son­nel, the impro­vised explo­sive device. Anoth­er $6 bil­lion goes into mil­i­tary intel­li­gence fund­ing, which includes invest­ments in intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance assets.

The bud­get request calls for three more Glob­al Hawk unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles, 48 more Reaper UAVs, 36 more Gray Eagle UAVs and 12 mar­itime UAVs, as well as 12 more MC-12 intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance air­craft.

The fis­cal 2012 bud­get request also sets the stage for the future, putting the defense secretary’s restruc­tur­ing of the F-35 joint strike fight­er pro­gram in con­crete. The request puts more mon­ey into research and devel­op­ment for the fifth-gen­er­a­tion fight­er and defers pro­cure­ment to the out years. Still, DOD will receive 32 of the planes in fis­cal 2012. The bud­get request also puts the ver­ti­cal-lift ver­sion of the air­craft on a two-year pro­ba­tion peri­od.

The bud­get request also pro­vides for:

— Pro­cure­ment of 28 more F/A-18E/F fight­er air­craft and 12 more EA-18G elec­tron­ic war­fare air­craft;

— A sta­bi­lized ship-build­ing effort, with two Vir­ginia-class sub­marines, a DDG-51 destroy­er, four lit­toral com­bat ships, an LPD-17 amphibi­ous assault ship and two joint high-speed ves­sels.

— Invest­ment of $2 bil­lion in long-range strike capa­bil­i­ties, most notably through a new Air Force bomber that will be stealthy and nuclear-capa­ble while giv­ing plan­ners the option of pilot­ing it remote­ly.

— $900 mil­lion for new air-to-air refu­el­ing tankers, and mon­ey for a new fam­i­ly of armored vehi­cles and a joint light tac­ti­cal vehi­cle. So the depart­ment doesn’t short­change ser­vice mem­bers of the future, offi­cials said, the bud­get request includes 2 per­cent real growth in basic research and holds the remain­der of the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy bud­get steady. All told, the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy bud­get is set at $12.2 bil­lion, offi­cials added.

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

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