|By Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fiscal 2011 defense budget request includes
modest but necessary spending increases in line with President Barack
Obama’s effort to balance national security with economic needs, the
deputy defense secretary told Congress members.
The $708 billion request “reflects the administration’s commitment to
modest, steady, and sustainable growth in defense spending,” William J.
Lynn III told the House and Senate budget committees in prepared
testimony. “Even as the president imposes a spending freeze on domestic
agencies, he has made a strategic choice to continue funding modest
growth in the military and in other national security agencies.”
Deputy Defense Secretary William
J. Lynn III, right, and Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale testify
at the House budget Committee on the fiscal 2011 Defense
Department budget request in Washington D.C., March 4.
The request includes $549 billion in discretionary budget authority
for baseline defense programs, an increase of more than $18 billion over
the current year.
Lynn, accompanied by Robert Hale, Pentagon comptroller, said the
increase is necessary to increase pay and benefits to match inflation
and fund programs such as health care expenses, which are growing beyond
the rate of inflation.
“Because the total cost of sustaining the force is growing faster than
inflation, (the Defense Department) needs real growth simply to maintain
present force levels,” Lynn said. “Sustaining our current size and
capabilities is essential to prosecute current wars, meet U.S.
commitments worldwide, and conduct unanticipated operations, including
relief efforts for natural disasters.
“We cannot afford to make cuts in the size of our force or our
operations while we are at war,” he added.
The budget reaffirms the commitment to the all-volunteer force, Lynn
said, with $138.5 billion for military pay and allowances that includes
a 1.4 percent pay raise; $2.2 billion for programs to support wounded
warriors; $50.7 billion for medical coverage for 9.5 million
beneficiaries; $8.1 billion for Family support programs; and $18.7
billion for military construction and Family housing.
Lynn noted health care as an area of large growth, but one in which the
department also has found savings in the budget. “Health care is one
area in particular where the introduction of efficiencies may yield cost
savings,” he said.
“If present trends continue, we can expect health care to consume 10
percent of (the department’s) budget by 2015.”
The request continues the “rebalancing” of the defense posture for the
current wars while preparing for future conflicts by providing more
rotary-wing aircraft; hiring 1,500 new helicopter pilots; and increased
funding for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support,
electronic warfare platforms and special operations.
The budget includes $189 billion for conventional and strategic
modernization, including $10.7 billion for continued development of the
F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and procurement of 42 of the
aircraft; $25.1 billion for procurement of new ships, equipment and
research and development; $9.9 billion for missile defense; and $3.2
billion to restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems program.
“These advanced weapons and capabilities are essential to keep us ahead
of our adversaries,” Lynn said. “We need weapons systems that give U.S.
forces an overwhelming advantage in combat, which will both save lives
and shorten conflicts.”
Another priority, the deputy secretary said, is reforming the
acquisition process. The base budget request will allow the department
to bolster its acquisitions work force for the eventual hiring of 20,000
workers to replace contractors. The “in-sourcing” ultimately will reduce
costs and operational risks and ensure that every defense dollar is
spent wisely, he added.
The ax must fall on programs the department doesn’t need or that are
costing more than expected, Lynn said.
“An important component of acquisition reform is having the discipline
to curtail or end unneeded and troubled programs,” he told the
legislators. The budget request calls for cutting seven major systems:
the Next Generation Cruiser, the Navy Intelligence Aircraft, the Third
Generation Infrared Surveillance System, the Net Enabled Command and
Control System, the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System,
more C-17 Globemaster III transport jets and an alternate engine for the
joint strike fighter.
Besides the base budget, the request includes $159.3 billion for
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That includes $89.4 billion for operations, $12 billion for force
protection, $3.3 billion to counter roadside bombs, $13.6 billion to
grow and train Afghan and Iraqi security forces, $2 billion for
coalition support, $1.3 billion for the Commanders’ Emergency Response
Program and $21.3 billion for the reconstruction and resetting of
“Building the capacity for partner nations to support U.S.
counterterrorism operations has emerged as a crucial national security
priority,” Lynn said.