Lawmakers have shut down previous Pentagon efforts to change every one of those items.
Despite the apparent futility of requesting another round of base closures and realignments, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale says the military will keep at it. “It seems to me we have to keep asking,” Hale says. “We know we need it. It’s the only way to reduce excess infrastructure.”
Fights over reductions in missile defense funding are already brewing. The fiscal 2014 budget request includes $9.162 billion for missile defense, down by about $500 million in fiscal 2013. That amount reflects the termination of the Precision Tracking Space System, along with the end in fiscal 2013 of the Pentagon’s commitment to develop technology for the Medium Extended Air Defense System with Italy and Germany.
It also includes a shift in the Pentagon’s long-term plan to shield the U.S. against attacks from North Korea and Iran that was announced last month, which includes the purchase of 14 additional Ground-based Interceptors and dropping the planned final phase of the phased adaptive approach in Europe, the SM-3 Block IIB program.
The reduction in missile defense drew the ire of Republican lawmakers including Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who says, “while North Korea blusters about nuclear war, the president’s budget falls short of funding missile defense.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Carter told the Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier this week that the budget protects the Pentagon’s strategy to “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.
With that in mind, the budget will continue to support the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, providing $8.4 billion. It will provide $379 million to develop a long-range bomber, add $10.1 billion for space assets and invest $4.7 billion in cyberspace operations.
Meanwhile, the administration “hopes” to submit a request for war spending to Congress within the next month, according to Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s top budget official.
The overall budget request includes an $88 billion placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations, but that includes no further detail. That amount is up to $10 billion higher than the military had anticipated, Hale says, because of a higher operational tempo and logistical difficulties.