April 10, 2013
Credit: David B. Gleason
President Barack Obama is asking Congress to provide $526.6 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2014, a figure that does not include war-funding details or the continuing effects of across-the-board budget cuts that start in fiscal 2013.
Over 10 years, the request sent to Capitol Hill on April 10 would trim $150 billion from previous spending plans for the military, with most of the reductions coming in later years. The reductions are a part of the president’s proposal for trimming the deficit which, if adopted by Congress, could repeal the Budget Control Act of 2011 that set in motion nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board budget cuts over the next decade.
But with no guarantee of Congress actually taking up Obama’s proposal or reaching a compromise on deficit reduction, uncertainty will continue to surround Pentagon spending levels as lawmakers fight over the details included in the budget.
“Unfortunately, [fiscal] 2014 programs will be significantly and adversely affected by sequester budget cuts in [fiscal] 2013,” says a Pentagon press statement.
Defense Secretary Check Hagel stressed that the Pentagon is preparing for the reality of continued across-the-board budget cuts, starting with a $41 billion reduction this year. “I don’t think anyone is minimizing the result of sequestration as a law,” Hagel says. “We are planning for every eventuality.”
That, he says, is why he directed Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to work on a strategic review to mitigate some of the uncertainty.
The budget will save $8.2 billion from terminating and restructuring weapons systems over the next five years, Hagel says. He counts $2 billion in savings on development costs by restructuring the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle program. Other terminations include the Precision Tracking Space System.
In all, the fiscal 2014 base budget seeks $99.3 billion for procurement accounts, a reduction of about 1%, according to Robert Stallard, an analyst for RBC Europe Limited. The Pentagon is requesting $67.5 billion for research and development efforts, a cut of 3.6% from the previous year. That includes decisions that are sure to draw fire from lawmakers and defense companies, including stopping the purchase of Global Hawk Block 30 and 40 UAVs, C-27J aircraft and truncating the purchase of Lakota Helicopters.
But the tiffs with Congress won’t end there. In the coming years, the Pentagon is proposing to control costs by revising missile defense programs, closing bases, reforming the military health care system, restructuring the cost of the contractor and civilian workforce and controlling health care costs.