DOD budget growing in size, complexity, experts say

The Defense Department’s appeal for funding will be threefold when it releases its fiscal year 2008 budget request Feb 5.

In addition to its regular annual budget request, DOD will include requests for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal 2008 and an additional $100 billion in supplemental war funding for the remainder of fiscal 2007. The total could be more than $650 billion, experts say.

Base funding for defense activities in fiscal 2008 is projected to be about $485 billion, not counting the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, said Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The current funding levels are near historic highs, even without the war costs, he said.

“You would have to go back to World War II to find a level of funding that in real terms is as high as what we’re spending today,” Kosiak said. President Bush has called for permanent increases in Army and Marine Corps troops, placing additional demands on future funding, Kosiak added.

In the 2007 Defense Authorization bill, Congress directed that all war funding for fiscal 2008 be included in next week’s request, seeking an end to the large supplemental requests. The Pentagon has said it would try to accommodate Congress’ request.

Congress is sure to scrutinize the 2007 supplemental war funding request because of its enormous size and loosely defined scope, the experts said. Legislators have openly criticized DOD’s approach to the supplemental request.

For example, in an Oct. 25, 2006, memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England told service officials to include all costs related to the global war on terrorism in their fiscal 2007 supplemental budget requests. In the past, supplemental funding focused on Iraq and Afghanistan but included money for other related activities.

“Basically, it opens the floodgates as to what you can include,” Kosiak said.

The Pentagon’s supplemental request seeks $99.7 billion, according to an internal DOD document called Program Budget Decision 711. That includes $1.3 billion for the F-35 Joint Strike fighter aircraft and $62 million for ballistic missiles. Neither is likely to be used in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The document also calls for more than $2.5 billion in research and development funding. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, has stated that he would oppose supplemental funding that does not relate to the ongoing wars.

Meanwhile, the military services are redefining what constitutes a global war on terrorism program. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation Jan. 22, Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey said the Future Combat System was developed for what the Pentagon calls the Long War.

FCS has capabilities for preinsurgency and insurgency operations, Harvey said. But the system will not achieve its initial operating capability until December 2014, according to Boeing, the prime contractor for the program.

Total anticipated defense spending for 2007
  • 2007 base budget: $376.6 billion.
  • 2007 Bridge fund for ongoing war operations: $70 billion.
  • Defense money contained in continuing resolution: $55.4 billion.
  • Projected 2007 supplemental request: $99.7 billion.
  • Energy Department funding for defense activities: $16 billion.
  • Total national defense without war costs: $452.5 billion.
  • Total with war costs: $622.2 billion.

Source: Center for Defense Information


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