The Air Force Magazine has published the core defense budget, GWOT budget, and total budget numbers requested by the DOD. They are accurate; the problem with them is that they aren’t pretty. They reveal troubling facts.
1) The core defense budget has been reduced, both in nominal terms and in real terms, from its FY2010 level. In current dollars, the core defense budgets are as follows: $528 bn for FY2010, $526.1 bn for FY2011, and $553.1 bn requested for FY2012. In constant dollars, the budgets were: $541.7 bn for FY2010, $532.9 bn for FY2011, and $553.1 bn requested for FY2012.
Here’s the complete data:
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 No War Costs, Current dollars $527.9 $526.1 $553.1 $570.7 $586.4 $598.2 $610.6 No War Costs, Constant FY 2012 dollars $541.7 $532.9 $553.1 $563.3 $567.2 $567.0 $567.2 With War Costs, Constant FY 2012 dollars $690.2 $685.1 $670.9 $620.7 $636.4 $648.2 $660.6 With War Costs, Current dollars $708.3 $694.0 $670.9 $612.6 $615.6 $614.4 $613.7
So, as you can see, after FY2014 defense spending will not rise in real terms by a cent, and total military spending will decline to $660.6 bn in FY2016, and that is only assuming that American troops aren’t withdrawn from Afghanistan earlier (as they should be).
The specifics of the core defense budget requested for FY2012 aren’t pretty, either. They’re troubling. For example:
1) Despite Secretary Gates’ much-hailed “efficiencies”, the annual cost of defense agencies will still rise from $91.7 bn in FY2011 to $96.8 bn in FY2012 and $114.7 bn in FY2014 before declining to $99.3 bn in FY2016.
2) The cost of military personnel, excluding HC programs – the second-largest item in the defense budget – will continue to rise in real terms, from $137 bn in FY2011 to $142.8 bn in FY2012 and $146.4 bn in FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016. Meanwhile, procurement spending will rise from $106.2 bn in FY2011 to only $113 bn in FY2012 and then stagnate in FY2014 at $115.9 bn; RDTE (research, development, testing, and evaluation) spending will decline from $81.4 bn in FY2011 to $75.3 bn in FY2012 and stagnate at $77.2 bn in FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016. The Operations and Maintenance budget, the largest item in the defense budget, will increase from $186.9 bn in FY2011 to $204.4 bn in FY2012, $208.2 bn in FY2013, and $209.6 bn in FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016. In other words, until FY2014, O&M costs will continue to explode. Apparently no one has told Gates that he could save a lot of money by e.g. restricting USAF aircraft to Executive Branch members only, installing winglets on VIP and OC aircraft, introducing alternative fuels, and razing unneeded buildings. And, of course, by ending the Afghan war and the bombing of Libya.
3) Training, and therefore readiness, will suffer significantly. The number of flight hours per crew per month for fighterplane crews has declined from $19.4 in FY2010 to $11.4 in FY2011 and will decline further to $11.0 in FY2012. Navy aviation flight hours per tactical crew per month have declined from 23.9 in FY1990 to 20.9 in FY2000 to 20.1 in FY2011 and are poised to shrink further, to 18.1 in FY2012. Annual tank miles will be 675 per year, 125 per year less than in FY1990.
4) The DOD will continue to waste money on the HC-130/MC-130 program instead of investing in the vastly superior V-22 aircraft type. In FY2012, the DOD $1.3603 bn on the former program and to invest only $598.4 mn in the V-22 program.
5) The Next Generation Bomber program (if it will be funded at all) will be drastically underfunded, at just $197 mn, $2 mn less than what the DOD requested for this project in FY2011. So for all of Gates’ “efficiencies”, he doesn’t invest more than just $197 mn in the NGB program in FY2012, even though the CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger, a retired USAF Colonel, has wisely advised the DOD to fully fund the NGB’s EMD (developmental) phase.
It’s time to change the way Beltway works. It’s time to change the way the Pentagon works.
It’s time to adequately finance America’s defense. But it’s also time to ensure that every single dollar from the annual defense budget is spent wisely. (http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Magazine%20Documents/2011/April%202011/0411chart.pdf)