DOD budget recognizes ongoing priorities

The Defense Department had planned, starting in 2007, to cut billions of dollars out of several high-profile projects, including the Army's Future Combat Systems program and the Navy's DD(X) destroyers.

The department's Program Budget Decision 753, released Dec. 23, 2004, foresaw slashing as much as $30 billion by 2011, including $1.1 billion in 2007.

But that was before President Bush sent the fiscal 2007 budget request to Congress earlier this month. The cuts were left out, and at least some observers have mixed feelings.

Bob Martinage, senior Defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said one of the critiques of the budget is not much was cut, even though some programs should have been.

He was, however, happy the department saw fit to increase other programs' dollars.

DOD's $439.3 billion budget puts top-level support and money behind capabilities, not just programs, to push transformation.

The budget includes $30.5 billion earmarked for IT, which would be just $104 million more than DOD received in 2006.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said he was pleased the Defense budget supports several important initiatives including unmanned aerial vehicles.

Released to Congress on Feb. 6, the DOD spending plan proposes a 7 percent overall increase over the fiscal 2006 budget and a 2.2 percent increase in military base pay.

Other highlights include:
  • $3.3 billion in procurement and re- search, development, test and evaluation for the Navy's DD(X) destroyer

  • $3.7 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems program, including prototype platform development, and network and software development and testing

  • $1.3 billion for the Joint Tactical Radio System

  • $5.3 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter

  • $900 million for the Transformational Satellite program

  • $800 million for the Littoral Combat Ship.

Martinage said a number of these programs are key for DOD's future needs. TSAT, for instance, is behind schedule and over budget but is important for Defense R&D. TSAT is designed to assist communications over the Global Information Grid, DOD's massive project to create a worldwide network for voice, video and data communications. The project would form a laser communications backbone in space and is expected to operate at multiple gigabits per second.

The 2006 budget slashed the Pentagon's request for TSAT by $400 million, putting the final sign-off at $436.8 million.

'TSAT was supposed to be reduced under this PBD and funding has been restored, and I think appropriately so,' Martinage said.

He said he was also happy the department is putting dollars behind the JTRS software programmable radios, although the program has seen its share of schedule delays and budget overruns.

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