Defense Budget Duck and Weave


rummy_poof.jpgRumsfeld came out and said it: He's not sacrificing any of his modernization plans just because there's a war going on."We, simply, as an institution, have to not stop doing what we were doing and start doing something new," he told reporters yesterday, introducing the Defense Department's budget for fiscal year 2007.But some analysts aren't so sure that Rummy is being straight up about how he pays for his new gear. Steven Kosiak, with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, thinks there's a "significant mismatch" between the Pentagon's "modernization plans and [its] projected funding levels. The new budget "would do little to improve the affordability."

Moreover, some of the proposed shifts in priorities such as the accelerated fielding of a new long-range strike aircraft (in 2018 rather than 2037) are likely to be dependent, for their implementation, on the willingness and ability of a future administration to make offsetting cuts in other DoD priorities. The QDR and FY 2007 budget request have, for the most part, deferred these difficult choices.
But that's not all. In addition to the gazillion dollar excuse me, $439.3 billion main Defense budget, there's also an extra $120 bill that's supposed to go to supporting the fights over in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kosiak is pretty sure a big chunk of that cash is going somewhere else. Some of it is going to fund an Army reorganization into smaller, more deployable units. Then there's this:
In early 2005, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that sustaining US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at essentially todays level would require about $85 billion in FY 2006. This suggests that the administrations proposed $120 billion in emergency funding for military operations in FY 2006 may be too high by as $35 billion.
Rummy has pulled this kind of stunt before -- dipping into the Army's payroll, and then forcing Congress to make up the difference in a war-funding bill. But I was half-hoping that this time around, he'd act like a man, and really say how much he was spending on his transformation projects. Oh, well.UPDATE 02/08/06 11:56 AM: "Many of the spending priorities in President Bush's proposed $439.3 billion defense budget conflict with the military requirements outlined in a new long-range plan drawn up by Pentagon officials," Knight-Ridder's Bob Cox reports.
Once again, experts say, the budget drawn up by the Pentagon's top civilian and military leader's calls for massive spending on new high-tech fighter jets, warships and missile defense systems at the expense of bolstering American soldiers' capability to prevail in the low-tech conflicts they're now engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq.The Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, released Friday, identifies a wide range of problems the military must be prepared to deal with. It calls for enhancing the ability of U.S. forces to conduct a low intensity, "long war" against terrorists in far flung locations, improve the military's homeland security capabilities, and prepare for a possible all-out with an emerging power like China.It's the latter scenario, which the military foresees fighting with F-22 fighter jets and new high-tech warships built by Lockheed Martin, that gets the biggest investment in the 2007 budget Bush submitted to Congress on Monday..."The words in the QDR don't seem to bear much resemblance to the numbers in the `07 spending request," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute defense think tank.
UPDATE 1:16 PM: The new budget kicks the Defense Department's new laser-based communications satellites to the curb, Reuters notes. The Armchair Generalist looks at the counter-WMD programs. (Here's some background.) Defense Industry Daily has a massive round-up of budget-related links.UPDATE 1:28 PM: Despite Sen. Robert Byrd's observation that the Pentagon's budget amounts to "$439 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born," many Senators are worried that Rummy & Co. aren't spending enough, Defense News reports. Shockingly, that's particularly true of guys like Joe Lieberman, who have big weapon-building facilities in their states.
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