The DOD’s budget request for FY2012

A few days ago, the DOD officially published its budget request for FY2012. It calls for $671 bn, including $553 bn as a core defense budget and $118 bn as a GWOT supplemental. It might seem large, but it would actually amount to only 4.6% of GDP, and its core defense component would equal only 3.782% of GDP. Moreover, it would be smaller than the FY2010 and FY2011 military budgets.

The FY2010 military budget amounted to $664 bn dollars in 2009’s money (it was requested in April 2009), i.e. $674 bn in today’s dollars. The FY2011 military budget, authorized under the FY2011 Continuing Resolution, is $675 bn ($525 bn as a core defense budget and $150 bn as a GWOT supplemental). So the proposed FY2011 military budget would mean a $4 bn reduction of annual military spending. It would be the smallest military budget since FY2009. And, as the US military withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, it would shrink even further.

The FY2012 budget would finally increase defense spending to the requisite level, the minimum necessary level: $553 bn per year. The current defense budget, $525 bn, authorized by the ConRes (because the 111th Congress failed to pass a regular budget), is inadequate, both in terms of numbers and in terms of legal flexibility. It’s $17.76 bn smaller than the FY2010 defense budget ($542.76 bn) and $24 bn smaller than the FY2011 defense budget request ($549 bn). Secretary Gates has competently explained why is this ConRes inadequate and extremely inflexible, as has Admiral Mullen (for example, the USN could not order a second Virginia class submarine this FY):

The FY2012 budget proposal would, if implemented, fund the military properly and implement Gates’ reform plan, to make the DOD flatter and more agile; to eliminate unnecessary expenses; to reform DOD programs; to save taxpayers $178 bn over 5 Fiscal Years.

The defense budget would be, in real terms, smaller than Reagan’s last 3 defense budgets, and would represent the lowest percentage of GDP invested in defense since FY1949, excluding FYs 1996-2002. It would represent just a 14.94% part of Obama’s $3.7 trillion budget proposal. Total military spending would amount to just an 18.14% share. According to Secretary Gates, this would be the military’s smallest share of the total federal budget since before WW2, excluding the late 1990s.