Pentagon Comptroller Explains Budget Issues

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2011 — While acknowl­edg­ing a tougher finan­cial real­i­ty, the Defense Department’s top finan­cial offi­cial yes­ter­day warned of a dis­rup­tion in war fund­ing and oth­er like­ly effects if Con­gress con­tin­ues to force the mil­i­tary to oper­ate on con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions instead of ful­ly fund­ed bud­gets for fis­cal 2011 and 2012.

In a “DOD Live” blog­gers round­table yes­ter­day, Pen­ta­gon Comp­trol­ler Robert F. Hale explained Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s $671 bil­lion fis­cal 2012 bud­get request for the Defense Depart­ment and detailed poten­tial effects if the mil­i­tary must con­tin­ue oper­at­ing with­out a ful­ly fund­ed fis­cal 2011 bud­get.

Although DOD offi­cials con­tin­ue to look aggres­sive­ly for oppor­tu­ni­ties to cut and save, Hale said, Con­gress must give the depart­ment suf­fi­cient fund­ing. Bud­getary delays with con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions, he added, would pose a nation­al secu­ri­ty prob­lem.

“We face a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in the cur­rent fis­cal year,” he said. “We are on a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion, … and a year-long con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion would pose seri­ous prob­lems for us. It would­n’t pro­vide enough resources to prop­er­ly meet our nation­al secu­ri­ty require­ments [and] would fea­ture a $23 bil­lion cut com­pared to our pro­pos­al.”

Hale said fund­ing via con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion would lim­it the military’s dis­cre­tionary spend­ing pow­er, reduc­ing man­age­r­i­al flex­i­bil­i­ty and the pro­cure­ment of assets. Some 50 “shov­el-ready” mil­i­tary con­struc­tion projects con­tin­ue to be delayed by con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion fund­ing, he not­ed, and the Army recent­ly froze hir­ing of civil­ian per­son­nel, leav­ing posi­tions vacant for tank mechan­ics and the like.

Hale said the depart­ment requires “rea­son­able fund­ing” to avert a fis­cal cri­sis.

The fis­cal 2012 bud­get request includes $533 bil­lion in dis­cre­tionary spend­ing author­i­ty, with anoth­er $118 bil­lion to sup­port oper­a­tions in Afghanistan and Iraq, com­pared with an autho­riza­tion this year of $725 bil­lion that includ­ed an addi­tion­al $41 bil­lion for the war effort.

Total defense spend­ing would decline by $15 bil­lion to $35 bil­lion, depend­ing on whether Con­gress funds war spend­ing — beyond the nor­mal bud­get — with a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion.

At the very least, the Pen­ta­gon requires $540 bil­lion in fis­cal 2012, Hale said, not­ing that the “reform agen­da” of the new Con­gress has pro­posed fund­ing of about $532 bil­lion.

“While we’re accom­plish­ing our nation­al secu­ri­ty goals,” he said, “we rec­og­nize the coun­try has got seri­ous eco­nom­ic prob­lems, and we are work­ing to tight­en our belt.”

Toward that end, Hale said, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials con­tin­ue to reform the bud­get and acqui­si­tions process. Aside from a 10 per­cent cut in con­tract­ing ser­vices that would save $20 bil­lion or so per year, he said, the mil­i­tary pro­pos­es cuts to ground forces to save anoth­er $6 bil­lion over a five-year peri­od. In a mul­ti-year plan, Hale added, the mil­i­tary wish­es to cut Army end strength by 27,000 while shed­ding 15,000 to 20,000 posi­tions in the Marine Corps.

In addi­tion, he said, the depart­ment intends to cut the Marine Corps’ expe­di­tionary fight­ing vehi­cle, but would main­tain the service’s amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty with a cheap­er vehi­cle and upgrades to the exist­ing fleet.

Hale also said the mil­i­tary would con­tin­ue to mod­ern­ize equip­ment as plan­ners con­tin­ue to focus on cur­rent wars, ensur­ing prop­er resources for intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, recon­nais­sance, rotary-wing air­craft and what­ev­er it takes to build “part­ner­ship capac­i­ty” in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We’re mod­ern­iz­ing broad­ly for future con­flicts, [with] aggres­sive mod­ern­iza­tion of our tac­ti­cal air fleet, our ships, a new bomber pro­gram, a ground vehi­cle pro­gram and, final­ly, sup­port­ing our deployed troops — espe­cial­ly those in war zones — with all the resources they need, includ­ing finan­cial resources,” he said.

In fact, he not­ed, the imper­a­tive to “sup­port the troops” rep­re­sents the most dra­mat­ic change to the defense bud­get from this year to the next. The Pen­ta­gon pro­posed spend­ing $8.8 bil­lion next year for fam­i­ly sup­port pro­grams, with about $500 mil­lion in fund­ing shift­ed from exist­ing wartime funds.

“As we invest these dol­lars to meet our nation­al secu­ri­ty require­ments, we fol­low sev­er­al themes, [but] our most impor­tant goal is to take care of our peo­ple,” Hale said. “We pro­pose a pay raise of 1.6 per­cent, about $8.3 bil­lion in fam­i­ly sup­port spend­ing, and sub­stan­tial fund­ing for our mil­i­tary health care.”

Still, Hale added, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials would be look­ing for cost sav­ings with­in the Mil­i­tary Health Sys­tem bud­get, not­ing offi­cials like­ly would increase TRICARE Prime health plan enroll­ment fees for work­ing-age mil­i­tary retirees mod­est­ly — by about $5 per month for fam­i­lies and $2.50 per month for sin­gle ben­e­fi­cia­ries. The fees, which haven’t changed in 15 years, would then be tied to a health care index for future infla­tion­ary increas­es, Hale said.

Also, he said, the mil­i­tary grad­u­al­ly would elim­i­nate sub­si­dies for civil­ian hos­pi­tals pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary health care, cre­at­ing a sin­gle tier of pay­ment for hos­pi­tals. Offi­cials also would increase phar­ma­cy users’ co-pay­ments while encour­ag­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ries to fill their pre­scrip­tions by mail and to request gener­ic drugs.

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →