The House and the Senate have recently agreed, in a conference committee, on the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act, also known as the Authorization version of the FY2012 defense budget. The Act, if passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President, will be quite different from what he requested in February for FY2012:
1) The total FY2012 budget will be smaller by $27 bn compared to what he requested.
2) The FY2012 core defense budget will be smaller by $26 bn – $527 bn vs $553 bn.
3) OCO spending and the DOE’s budget for defense-related programs will also see cuts compared to what Obama requested.
The total military budget will be $26 bn smaller than what it was in FY2011, and the core defense budget will be $2 bn smaller. That is not much, but remember that this is BEFORE the sequester officially kicks in. Once it kicks in, it will decimate the defense budget, cutting it by $882 bn in real terms, or $228 bn in nominal terms.
Even without the sequester, this defense budget will cut or otherwise underfund some crucial weapon programs:
1) Funding for AH-64 replacement helicopters will be smaller than requested, not allowing for a total replacement of combat losses.
2) Not enough funding to replace H-47s and H-60s lost in Afghanistan.
3) No funding to replace the F/A-18s lost in the GWOT.
4) No funding for the SM-3 Block IIB interceptor.
5) Funds nuclear arsenal cuts and plutonium nonmilitarization programs.
6) No funding for any additional ground-based interceptors.
7) A cut of more than 50, by $50 mn out of $96 mn, of the Airborne Laser program.
8) Funds the construction of only 10 ships in FY2012, not even nearly enough to even stop the decline of the Navy’s ship fleet, let alone grow it.
9) Funds only 28 Super Hornets and only 12 EF-18G Growlers, not even nearly enough to close the Navy’s fighterplane gap.
10) It does not provide enough funding to keep the strategically important Lima Production Plant (America’s only remaining tank factory) open; it merely provides some funding to modernize a handful of M1 Abrams tanks.
11) It does not provide any funding to purchase any used M60 Patton tanks from any allied countries.
If that were not enough, there are many crucial weapon programs that it does not fund at all and which the DOD didn’t even request, like an ICBM replacement program.
If that were not enough:
1) It will legalize sodomy and bestiality in the military.
2) It will institute requirements for dozens of additional annual reports while not rescinding any requirements for any reports.
3) It will limit TRICARE program premium fees to hikes in retired pay, thus essentially nixing them and preventing any reform of the TRICARE program.
4) It may authorize the indefinite detention of US citizens on the mere suspicion of being terrorists.
My recommendation to the President is that he veto the bill.
UPDATE: The President has signed the bill. It is now law. It is now the FY2012 military budget of the United States.