Lost amid the buzz over the Pentagon’s budget request yesterday was the request of another pretty important national security organization: the sprawling, 22 agency behemoth that is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The DHS’s budget request—$44.9 billion for fiscal year 2013—could almost be a rounding error in the Pentagon’s $613 billion submission, but it covers lots of important programs, some of which don’t look too different from its DoD counterparts.
On the sea, the Coast Guard’s overall budget remains largely stable, falling a hair from $10 billion in 2012 to $9.6 billion in 2013, while requesting the decommissioning of several older ships. On the chopping block are two Cutters, three Patrol Boats, and three HU-25 aircraft -- which will be replaced by three new HC-144A aircraft made by EADS North America. To replace some of these maritime capabilities the Coast Guard is asking for $658 million for a sixth new National Security Cutter and $8 million to begin the procurement of a desperately needed polar icebreaker, since the department says that it recognizes “the criticality of the Arctic as a strategic national priority, given increasing presence and interest by other nations, the preponderance of natural resources available in this region, and increasing maritime commercial and recreational activity.”
Then there’s the arm of the DHS that gets the majority of the press attention: Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The folks who keep watch on our borders have submitted a request that remains pretty flat from last year, with a $272 million increase proposed to bring it up to $11.9 billion.
Since the Southwest border remains an obvious priority, the CBP wants $92 million to purchase sensor technologies “tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each border region.” The budget asks for at least one Integrated Fixed Tower as described in the Arizona Technology Plan that the CBP put together when its SBInet border surveillance system was cancelled in 2011. The Department also requests $40 million for its Tactical Communications program which seeks to build an open architecture system “that will increase interoperability with other law enforcement, expand coverage, and improve agent safety in the Houston, El Paso, and Rio Grande Valley sectors,” in Texas.
The DHS is also requesting over $66 million for upgrades and new buys of its fleet of P-3 Orion; King Air 350 CER; and UH-60 A-L Black Hawk aircraft. Finally—and significantly—the White House wants to restore some of the funding that the DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate lost in 2012. The 2013 request of $831 million is a big bump up from 2012’s $668 million, with all of that extra cash earmarked for projects like countering homemade explosives, cybersecurity, biological defense, and technologies for first responders.