The budget set the Obama administration on a collision course with
Congress by trying to eliminate popular older weapons systems and
curb military compensation while seeking $26.4 billion in additional
defense spending to be paid for by closing tax loopholes and cutting
The spending plan released on Tuesday means the Pentagon's base
budget for the 2015 fiscal year essentially would remain flat for a
third consecutive year as the department responds to directions to
cut nearly $1 trillion in spending over a decade.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the budget "supports — and is
informed by — our updated defense strategy" as outlined in the
Quadrennial Defense Review, an examination of strategy and
priorities that was released alongside the budget.
"Today's world requires a strategy that is neither budget driven nor
budget blind," he said in a statement. "We need a strategy that can
be implemented with a realistic level of resources, and that is what
this QDR provides."
The two documents drew an immediate negative reaction on Capitol
Hill. Representative Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the
House Armed Services Committee, expressed dismay at the shrinking
security spending and flatly rejected the strategy review, vowing to
make the Pentagon rewrite it.
"The product the process produced this time has more to do with
politics than policy and is of little value to decision-makers,"
McKeon said in a statement.
Army General Martin Dempsey, the military's top uniformed officer,
signed off on the strategic review as "appropriate to the resources
available" but made no bones about the fact that it meant a "smaller
and less capable military" that would make it more difficult to meet
U.S. security obligations.
The White House said the Pentagon's funding levels would enable the
military to protect U.S. interests and execute the country's updated
defense strategy, albeit with "somewhat increased levels of risk."
The risks "would grow significantly" if higher budget cuts go into
force in 2016 and beyond as planned, it said.
TOTAL DEFENSE SPENDING UNKNOWN
The Pentagon's five-year budget plan released on Tuesday ignores the
spending caps set by Congress for the 2016 to 2019 fiscal years,
seeking $115 billion more than the limits set in the 2011 Budget
Analysts said the true level of defense spending would not be known
for several months until the Pentagon releases its war-funding
request for 2015.
[to top of second column]
The department increasingly has relied on that segment of the budget
for funding operations and modernization related to the Afghanistan
conflict because it is not subject to congressional budget caps.
Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and
Budgetary Assessments, said money included in the war-funding budget
in 2014 largely offset the more than $30 billion in across-the-board
cuts imposed on the base budget.
He said Pentagon reliance on the war-funding budget was a "pretty
dangerous situation" because once most U.S. forces withdraw from
Afghanistan in December it will become more difficult to justify
funding military operations through that supplemental measure.
Christine Wormuth, the deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy
and plans, said the review and budget represented a transition from
"the wars of the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan to looking at
future threats and ... what our joint force needs to be able to do
in the next 10 to 20 years."
The budget calls for the Army to shrink to between 440,000 and
450,000 soldiers, down from a war-time high of 570,000, a reduction
of 40,000 to 50,000 compared to last year's proposal.
It would eliminate the entire fleet of popular A-10 "Warthog"
tank-killer aircraft, as well as the venerable U-2 reconnaissance
planes. The budget also cancels several other key weapons programs.
The Army's new ground combat vehicle would be eliminated, saving
$3.4 billion over the next five years, and the Army communications
network being built by General Dynamics Corp would be scaled back,
saving another $3.4 billion.
The budget also scraps plans to build two additional Lockheed Martin
Corp Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites, for $2.1 billion
in savings, and defers two Global Positioning System III satellites
to be built by Lockheed.
The Pentagon would use some of the savings to invest in new
research, development and procurement. The budget includes $153.9
billion for weapons, including $40 billion for aircraft, $22 billion
for ships and $8.2 billion for missile defense.
(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Susan Heavey and
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.