The Pentagon keeps learning from the field that soldiers, sailors and airmen thirst for one thing above all else -- better information. It takes the form of what Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale calls "an almost insatiable demand" for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). To meet that demand the military is asking Congress to fund $5 billion in new unmanned and manned ISR systems in its budget request. The list is: three more Global Hawks for $1.7 billion; 48 more reaper UAS for $1.4 billion; 36 Grey Eagles for $1 billion; another 12 Liberty MC-12 ISR aircraft for $300 million; accelerate the Fire Scout maritime UAS system with $300 million.
And they plan to pour $2.3 billion into improved cyber capabilities.
But this does not address a serious short term problem the Pentagon says it faces. If Congress does not pass a defense spending bill of around $545 billion, Hale said the military faces perhaps the most serious crisis he has seen in some 30 years working in the defense realm. He said he understands the pressures in the Congress -- hi there, Tea Party -- but a CR would pose serious problems for the Pentagon. First, it could not fund any new starts for fiscal 2011. Already, the CR is affecting operations. The Navy could not go ahead with procurement of the second Virginia class submarine and the Navy is striving to figure out how to manage layoffs from the yard, he said. Some 40 military construction projects have been delayed. And, more broadly, he said a CR would force the Pentagon to engage in "inefficient management" practices, such as signing month to month contracts.
Overall, the base Pentagon budget request for fiscal 2012 increases slightly to %553 billion from last year's request of $548 billion. The current CR would provide $526 billion.