The New Defense Budget

SecDef Gates has testified before Congress about the next defense budget. A lot of people are going to be crying about this or that, but overall, I don’t think it’s all that bad.

First, I don’t think anyone can claim I’m an Obama defender, but when people start crying about cuts in the defense budget, remember, the total budget went up. What we are talking about here is program cuts. And there are a lot of programs that frankly, we can live without.

From the Secretary’s prepared remarks:

We will stop the growth of Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) at 45 versus 48 while maintaining the planned increase in end strength of 547,000. This will ensure that we have better-manned units ready to deploy, and help put an end to the routine use of stop loss. This step will also lower the risk of hollowing the force.

And this:

Sixth, and finally, we will significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. We will retain and accelerate the initial increment of the program to spin out technology enhancements to all combat brigades. However, I have concluded that there are significant unanswered questions concerning the FCS vehicle design strategy. I am also concerned that, despite some adjustments, the FCS vehicles – where lower weight, higher fuel efficiency, and greater informational awareness are expected to compensate for less armor – do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current vehicle program, developed nine years ago, does not include a role for our recent $25 billion investment in the MRAP vehicles being used to good effect in today’s conflicts.

Guys, this is about as good as we could hope for. In fact, it ain’t bad at all. Here’s the thing- Obama doesn’t care about this stuff. Working on the details of the Defense Budget is well, work. Since he doesn’t care to work, he left Gates in charge of it. And Gates has made mostly grown-up decisions. Sure, there’s room for disagreement, but overall, he’s made choices that can be logically defended.

H/T: Information Dissemination for the prepared remarks. Go visit him to see theĀ  impact on the other services as well.

9 thoughts on “The New Defense Budget”

  1. I don’t share your optimism. Yes, the actual numbers are going up from last year, however the DoD works on a 6 year budget plan. The expenditures for next year are a significant cut from what has been programmed for the last 6 years.

    The bigger worry is the camp of those who think we should prepare for the low intensity conflict in Afghanistan and that the “high intensity” warfare is a thing of the past. Couple Gates’ “cuts” with the unimaginable increases elsewhere in the budget and we’ll be left with forces even less potent than President Carter passed to his successor.

    I will still hold Gates in high regard, but the change of emphasis displayed by his budget is uncomfortably close to President Obama’s infamous You Tubed statement of how he would handle the Defense budget. I’m afraid “about as good as we could hope for,” is a little optimistic… and not at all reassuring.

  2. Let me get this straight, ending production of the F-22 is no big deal? Ending production of the C-17 isn’t a worry? Not deploying ABMs to Alaska to fill unfilled silos isn’t a worry given the Norks IBMM testing or the PRC boast they could incinerate Los Angeles.

    In a period when Obama is handing out blank checks he is going to hollow out the military.

    Saying it isn’t bad can only be justified if the doctor tells you yes you have cancer but it isn’t terminal, it will only cost you both legs.

    1. The F-22 was doomed. Everyone knew it. I had faint hope they’d get another 20 birds to get to 203, but there wasn’t a lot of hope for that.

      The C-17 likewise. Sure, that’s a decision that will bite them in the ass sooner or later, but the AF sure wasn’t going to bat for it.

      As to BMD, they are strengthening the one part of BMD that’s been consistently successful and on-time/on-budget, Aegis, so while I’m a little disappointed, it ain’t the end of the world.

      Did anyone really think in this time of financial difficulty the budget was going to be a lot of sunshine and puppies?

      While there is scope for concern, this is nothing like as bad as it could have been. If they do manage to fund the operations of existing forces, that’ll be pretty nice.


    There’s a huge discussion going on here and the photographer’s disappointed over the cancellation of the F-22 program and frankly, he makes sense. The decision’s made right now and we reap what we sow.

    However Congress may go over Gates’ head and override him on the decision to cut the F-22 program because there are alot of senators including both mine that wants the F-22 program alive.

    1. Dude, 304 pages of flickr? It’s gonna take me a while to work through all of them. You’ve got some great photos, and some new fans.

  4. XBrad/

    As someone commented elsewhere, all those defense workers who will lose well-paying jobs can always get a job with ACORN–they’re only in line for approx. 5 BILLION worth! Budget “difficulties” indeed. This entire affair is sickening enough to make even a Jackal wretch!

    I’m with TJ and oceanguy on this…

  5. Too much focus on “unconventional warfare”. China, Iran and North Korea could blindside us at any time.

    Clinton’s frist defense team lead by the Late Les Aspin, tried to use Desert Storm and Panama as a metric. Their legacy was the procurement holiday and the current problems the military faces today (if they did not cut so deeply, we would not need all the contractors in Iraq).

    Cuts to boost phase missile defense will haunt Gates and Pres. Obama, but Patriot and THAAD will soldier on. I hear rumors of a second line battery standing up soon.

  6. I agree that the budget cuts seemed responsible, though why we’re cutting the budget at all in these times is a bit mysterious. Even the guys I work with on FCS vehicles are saying that this is probably a good thing, at least in the long term. But looking around at the geopolitical reality we face, cutting the defense budget seems oddly short-sighted. At least it’s odd for a man who budgeted economic stimulus measures 3 years past the point of economic recovery.

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