Preview of the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request

Chris Hellman, National Priorities Project, 29 January 2010.

Sources and Methodology: Much of the information contained here comes from various media accounts or discussions with analysts and congressional staff.

Introduction: The Obama Administration will release its budget request for Fiscal Year 2011 on Monday, February 1. At the same time, the Defense Department is expected to release an additional emergency supplemental funding request to cover the FY 2010 costs of the Afghanistan “surge” not covered by the “Overseas Contingency Operations” funding included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3326). [See “Funding for Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” below.]

Total “Top Line” Spending: $580 Billion [Function 050] – [NOTE: These totals do not include the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.] Unlike most years, the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request did not project Defense Department [Function 051] future year funding. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projected $541.8 billion for Fiscal Year 2011. Previously the Administration had pledged to hold Pentagon spending at $534 billion plus inflation. More recently, however, it has been reported that defense spending will grow by a total of $100 billion, plus inflation, over the next five years. Estimating 2 percent inflation (roughly $11 billion), and adding an additional $10 billion (assuming that the $100 billion in new spending over five years will be weighted toward the “out” years) means a nominal increase of roughly $21 billion, or $555 billion for defense [Function 051]. In addition, OMB projected a further $16.6 billion for nuclear weapons-related activities of the Department of Energy [Function 053] and $7.1 billion for miscellaneous defense activities [Function 054], for a total defense spending level of $579 billion [Function 050].

Funding the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – Prior to Fiscal Year 2010, funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded outside the annual defense budget through special supplemental appropriations. After taking office the Obama Administration pledged that it would end this practice and, beginning with its FY 2010 budget request, would include funding for ongoing military operations in the annual request. As a result, the FY 2010 request included $130 billion for “Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).” Subsequent to that, however, the Administration decided to send “surge” of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. As a result, the Pentagon’s funding request will consist of two parts – a small $30-$35 billion supplemental request for additional FY 2010 funds to cover the cost of the “surge,” and a larger $165 billion request for OCO in FY 2011.

Including the additional funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, total defense spending in FY 2011 could exceed $745 billion.

Program Terminations – The Pentagon will again seek to terminate weapons programs that are either under-performing, those for which there is no requirement, or those which don’t fit with the Department’s strategic vision. The Pentagon will not seek additional funding for the C-17 transport aircraft or the second engine source for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), both of which it sought to terminate in FY 2010, but for which Congress appropriated unrequested funds. In addition the Pentagon will reportedly not seek funding for the Navy’s CG(x) cruiser replacement program, or its EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft replacement program.

“Winners” – The Army will invest heavily in helicopters, including the CH-47 “Chinook,” the family of UH-60 “Blackhawks,” and the development of a heavy-lift helicopter. The request will contain funding for the Air Force’s oft-delayed airborne tanker program. Funding will continue to grow for a broad range of unmanned systems, both aerial and ground-based.

Missile Defense: Steady-State at $9 Billion – The FY 2011 request is likely to be at or slightly below current funding levels. In addition, the Pentagon will likely continue efforts to reorient missile defense away from long-range development of a national system, and increase focus on systems at or near operational capability such as the Navy’s program based on the AEGIS system and the Standard-3 missile.

Shipbuilding: Steady State – The Navy will continue to spend roughly $14 billion on shipbuilding. This will include funding for two DDG-51 destroyers, two Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), two “Virginia” class submarines, one “San Antonio” amphibious assault ship and two other ships – possibly an LHA replacement vessel and/or T-AKE supply ships. Development funding will also be included for the “Ohio” ballistic missile submarine replacement program.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Slight Increase – Despite recent Pentagon reports detailing problems with the F-35 aircraft, the Pentagon is continuing its efforts to accelerate the program, although not quite as rapidly as anticipated. While Congress funded 30 aircraft in FY 2010, the Pentagon is requesting 42 aircraft for FY 2011 in its base budget, plus one additional aircraft in the “OCO” accounts. Previous plans had called for funding 48 F-35s in FY 2011.

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