Defense’s opponents are making fools of themselves once again

If you needed any proof that strong defense’s opponents are delusional fools, you need to look no further than the most recent editions of newspapers.

Defense’s opponents are up in arms over the fact that the extent of core defense budget cuts in FY2013 will be reduced by the collosal sum of – oh my gosh – $4 bn. Specifically, the defense budget WILL be cut by $6 bn, from $531 bn to $525 bn, as planned, but that will be partly compensated by adding $4 bn to the OCO supplemental, which will be a total of $88.5 bn. Therefore, the total DOD budget for FY2013 – assuming the Congress doesn’t cut it – will be $613.5 bn, as opposed to $645 bn this fiscal year.

In other words, of the $6 bn that will be cut out of the core defense budget, $4 bn will be compensated by appropriations in the OCO supplemental – if the Congress passes it in this form.

The $4 bn that will be “moved” to the OCO supplemental will be used to salary and compensate 65,000 troops who will be laid off by FY2017 as a part of the DOD’s end-strength reductions resulting from DOD budget cuts. These troops have been fighting the GWOT for the last several years, and will be laid off in the coming years, so, as the DOD says, it makes sense to cover them under the OCO supplemental rather than the core defense budget – and the OMB agrees with that justification.

But in any case, $4 bn, which is less than 1% of the core defense budget (not to mention the total DOD budget, which is $645 bn for FY2012) is a not something worth getting uppity about! In the DOD budget, that’s a rounding error!

Yet, defense spending critics claim that this is “proof” that defense spending cuts are a “myth” and that they’re not going to happen. The fact is that DOD spending WILL be cut: the core defense budget by $6 bn (or $2 bn, if you don’t count the $4 bn covered by the OCO supplemental) and the OCO budget by $30 bn, from $118 bn in FY2012 to $88.5 bn in FY2013. That is a total cut of $36 bn, or $32 bn if you don’t count that $4 bn. Further cuts will be coming in successive fiscal years. The core defense budget will not return to FY2011 levels until FY2019 at the earliest.

So the total DOD budget, including core defense spending and OCO spending, will be cut. So defense spending critics’ claims are lies. Heck, even Gordon Adams now admits that the DOD will now be operating “with more constrained resources”, although he doesn’t consider the cuts ordered by the first tier of the BCA ($487 bn over a decade) to be deep; he falsely claims they are “pathetically easy to live with”.

Moreover, the DOD will not be able to shift funding to the OCO supplemental forever, because there will be no OCO supplemental by FY2016. The last American troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by December 31st, 2014.

And that is of course to say nothing of the sequester, which is, as of today, the law of the land and which will kick in on January 1st, 2013 and cut defense spending deeply, down to $491 bn in FY2013 and even lower in later fiscal years.


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