DOD budget calls for leaner military

Modest increases, efficiency measures to prepare DOD for future conflict

The White House today outlined a Defense Department fiscal 2012 base budget of $553 billion, a figure that shows modest growth over last year’s budget but a $22 billion increase over the fiscal 2010 budget and an increase in cybersecurity research.

The fiscal 2012 request is $4 billion more than last year’s requested $548.9 billion, which was approved through a continuing resolution. DOD is also requesting $117.6 billion in overseas contingency operations funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For fiscal 2011 the OCO request was $159.3 billion; for 2010, $130 billion.

The White House pointed to the $22 billion increase over the fiscal 2010 request, which was the last federal budget to go through the congressional approval process, as a sign of sustained focus on military strength. It also stressed preparation for future conflicts as an area of focus in the fiscal 2012 budget.

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“This reflects continued investment in national security priorities such as cybersecurity, satellites and nuclear security,” according to DOD budget documents released by the White House.

Spending on intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, science and technology and cybersecurity research and development gained for fiscal 2012, with several billion proposed for next-generation capabilities.

At a press briefing, Robert Hale, DOD undersecretary and comptroller, underscored the budget’s allocation of $2.3 billion for cyber resources and development. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also pointed out that the budget request includes $500 million for Defense Advanced Research Project Agency research and development in cybersecurity.

“This is part of both the current war and the future,” Hale said. “We recognize the need to modernize for future conflict. Overall, we’re investing heavily to modernize for the future.”

Some $84 billion was requested for direct combat readiness and training, including what Hale called an “insatiable demand” for ISR capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The budget estimated $78 billion in savings through 2016 though management and acquisition reforms.

“Departmental priorities include improving business practices, such as developing and purchasing weapons consistent with improved acquisition policy,” according to the White House documents.

Gates also stressed the need for continued efforts in identifying efficiency opportunities across DOD, but called on Congress to enact permanent legislation for the DOD budget – and warned that using a continuing resolution to fund the military for the rest of the year would cut $26 billion from DOD coffers.

“I have concern that the debate is becoming increasingly distant from strategic and operating reality,” Gates said of ongoing debate over Pentagon spending on Capitol Hill, which he said boiled down important budget policy to “simple math.”

“I can’t think of a more serious situation than we have now,” Hale said of the continuing resolution issue, and cautioned that “bad things will occur” and that the military would be unable to fulfill national security needs if the continuing resolution were to last the entire year.

“The continuing resolution is difficult for everybody because of the restrictions that come with it…and with DOD’s size and complex mission, it’s that much more difficult,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council. “It’s brutally difficult on agencies, wreaks havoc on planning and puts an enormous burden on the workforce.”

However, DOD’s continuing resolution may be on its way out. According to a source close to the process speaking on background, a new legislative approach is close to fruition that would allow full appropriation for DOD with a continuing resolution for the rest of government.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.


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