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Military Wish Lists May Return with 2015 Budget

The U.S. military may resume the practice of submitting to Congress wish lists for additional weapons and equipment, now that the White House plans to include additional spending in the 2015 budget.

The requests, known in military parlance as unfunded priority lists, were used to pad the defense budget with hardware civilian leaders didn't ask for and were standard practice until former Defense Secretary Robert Gates began intercepting them from the top brass before they went to lawmakers, according to an article by Mark Thompson of Time magazine.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, recently asked the service chiefs, heads of the combatant commands and leaders of the National Guard Bureau for their lists after learning that President Barack Obama's soon-to-be-released budget request for fiscal 2015 will include some $56 billion in new spending, half for domestic programs and half for defense.

"Even the President acknowledges that the national security budget is insufficient to meet the threats we face; that is why he is sending us a list of requirements he needs but cannot fund," McKeon said in a recent statement.

"While I welcome his list, I am more interested in hearing directly from our service chiefs and commanders on their unfunded requirements rather than receiving an edited White House list tailored to scoring political points," he added.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to outline the Pentagon's budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 sometime next week, possibly Monday, before the spending plan's official March 4 release.

The Defense Department's base budget, which excludes war funding, is expected to be about $500 billion under congressional spending caps -- some $40 billion less than what the department previously budgeted for the year. Congress recently provided partial relief to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration over the next two years, but agencies still face spending reductions.

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