U.S defense budget 2010:a discussion


DFI Technocrat
Oct 10, 2009
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2010 Budget Signals Funds for New Starts In Short Supply

Published: 2 November 2009 PRINT | EMAIL
The 2010 U.S. defense budget terminates several troubled - and costly - weapon programs, while devoting more resources to such things as intelligence-gathering unmanned aircraft, blast-resistant vehicles and helicopters, and analysts see those trends holding for several years. The budget also signals there will be less funding available to launch new weapon development programs.

President Barack Obama signed into law a $680.2 billion 2010 defense authorization measure last week. A House-Senate conference prepares to fashion a final appropriations bill to send to the White House, but it likely will look a lot like the authorization act, which looks a lot like the Pentagon's request.

Indeed, Obama and his Pentagon lieutenants will get more of the funding levels and program changes they proposed than most administrations.

Defense officials have calculated lawmakers left intact "95 percent" of the 2010 spending request the Pentagon sent Congress in February, chief DoD spokesman Geoff Morrell said Oct. 28.

Defense analysts last week predicted that as long as Democrats maintain control of Congress, Obama likely will get much of what he wants in defense spending requests.

The 2010 budget sought to address several in-theater equipment needs, and senior defense officials have said for several months that the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and fiscal 2011 budget processes will continue that.

For instance, David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force transformation and resources, told reporters this summer that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "very aware of persistent shortfalls that have existed in the ability to support forces in disbursed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

He listed a few examples: "Rotary wing, lift, civil affairs, persistent ISR, and the exploitation and dissemination that goes with that, [and] intratheater lift."

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions are increasing in Afghanistan, defense officials say. And that means the 2010 defense budget puts more money into ISR programs. Analysts say that is unlikely to change as long as U.S. troops are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and as long as ISR proponent Gates remains defense secretary.

Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at Washington's Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the 2010 budget "saw a big turnaround to achieve Gates' ISR drive."

The 2010 Pentagon budget also puts more funds into helicopter accounts, another trend budget experts and defense analysts say will continue for years.

As the U.S. military increases its efforts in Afghanistan, commanders are relying more and more on helicopters to ferry fighters and equipment across the war-torn nation's rough landscape.

"The rotorcraft business is thriving while the fixed-wing portion of the business is faltering," said Loren Thompson of Arlington, Va.'s Lexington Institute. "With the exception of the C-130J Super Hercules, all of the fixed-wing transports currently in production could terminate relatively soon. Facilities building the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter have a bright future."

That should translate into greater profits for Boeing, which makes both the CH-47 helicopter and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Boeing's V-22 partner, Bell/Textron, should "benefit handsomely" from that program, Thompson said.

The Pentagon's ever-strengthening push for rotary-wing lift is perhaps exemplified by the Army's 2010 aviation budget plan.

The service sought $7 billion in 2010 aviation funding, and most of that will go for helicopter programs, according to service budget documents. The Navy's aviation budget swelled to $18.4 billion in the Pentagon's 2010 spending request, up from $14.7 billion in 2009. Helicopter programs got a healthy chunk of those additional funds.

Also getting a funding infusion in 2010 were special operations forces and programs aimed at helping partners build their military and security forces.

Other areas that got a boost from the 2010 defense budget were irregular warfare tools, analysts said. That push led to a greater emphasis on such things as intratheater lift airframes, UAVs and countermine-warfare systems.

The kinds of irregular and stability missions senior Pentagon officials envision for the Army and Marine Corps will require boosting their personnel and operations and maintenance coffers. And with defense budgets expected to level off or decline slightly, those outlays will take funds from long-term weapon development and procurement efforts.

Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at Washington's Heritage Foundation, noted spending on combat support and maintenance programs, along with things like cybersecurity and logistics programs, grew in 2010 - and likely will continue to swell in the Pentagon's 2011 spending request.

And while major defense firms once jockeyed for massive development and procurement contracts, over the next few years, Eaglen said, "contracts for upgrades and reset will prevail."

There are several long-range development efforts in the works. The Air Force is taking another look at building a new bomber. The Navy continues to mull over a new cruiser. The Army will soon take another shot at fielding a new family of ground vehicles.

For the next few years, those efforts will get research and development dollars. It will be at least five years, Eaglen said, before annual funding for such efforts will ramp up.

In the meantime, defense firms can only tussle over smaller contracts.

"When it comes to major contracts, million is the new billion," she said. "There are no more multibillion-dollar defense contracts coming anytime soon."

The 2010 budget continues a shift of funds from procurement accounts to research and development (R&D) efforts, Harrison said.

There also is churn within the department's 2010 R&D portfolio, he said. More and more R&D funding is going into the system design and development phase, leaving less and less for the kinds of early research work experts say can pre-empt costly design failures and changes late in a new platform's life.

"That indicates programs that are already started moving," Harrison said, "but it also shows there is no money for new starts." ■

E-mail: [email protected].


DFI Technocrat
Oct 10, 2009
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Obama's Partial Victory
Minus Some 'Wasteful Projects,' U.S. Spending Bill Remains Massive

Published: 2 November 2009 PRINT | EMAIL
President Barack Obama declared partial victory in a battle against wasteful Pentagon spending - then signed the largest defense spending bill since World War II.

Massive as it is, the $680.2 billion 2010 Defense Authorization Act eliminates "tens of billions of dollars in waste" by canceling buys of unneeded weapons, Obama said during an Oct. 28 bill-signing ceremony.

He listed the major casualties: the F-22 stealth fighter, the Future Combat Systems, the Airborne Laser, the combat search-and-rescue helicopter and the presidential helicopter.

But Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates didn't win every weapons fight.

They wanted to end production of C-17 cargo planes, and they fought against spending billions of dollars to develop another engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. Congress is almost certain to keep funding those programs through the defense appropriations bill.

And although the authorization bill kills the presidential helicopter program, it too may be revived by the appropriations bill.

Nonetheless, Obama said he was pleased with the defense budget outcome so far, and he vowed to make more defense cuts in the future.

"When Secretary Gates and I first proposed going after some of these wasteful projects, there were a lot of people in this town who didn't think it was possible, who were certain we were going to lose, who were certain that we would get steamrolled, who argued that the special interests were too entrenched, and that Washington was simply too set in its ways," Obama said. "And so I think it's important to note today we have proven them wrong.

"This bill is an important step forward, but it's just a first step. There's still more waste we need to cut. There are still more fights that we need to win," the president said. "Secretary Gates and I will continue waging these battles in the months and years ahead.

"We can't build the 21st-century military we need unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business," Obama said.

Despite the cuts to weapon programs, defense spending continues to increase, pushed mainly by personnel costs, rising operations and maintenance expenses, and ever-expanding health care expenses.

And just how much weapon program reform is accomplished this year may not be clear for a month or more, when a final version of the 2010 defense appropriations bill emerges from a House-Senate conference.

Both houses have passed versions of the appropriations bill - each totals $636.3 billion, but there are key differences between them that must be resolved by a conference committee. And so far, no committee has been appointed.

The appropriations totals are smaller than the authorization total because funding for nuclear weapons and the military, which is in the authorization bill, comes through separate appropriations bills.

For the time being, that appropriations bill is stalled, a hostage to congressional political maneuvering.

Leaders in both houses have decided to hold the appropriations bill back until near the end of the legislative year. Because funding for the military is "must-pass legislation," the defense appropriations bill has become a useful political tool.

For example, bills that probably wouldn't pass by themselves can be attached as amendments to the appropriations bill and sweep through Congress.

The bill may also serve as the core of an "omnibus" bill - a conglomeration of funding bills that haven't yet passed. An omnibus bill could include funding for government agencies such as the departments of State, Labor, Education, Justice and others.

And delaying the defense appropriations bill gives the Democrats who control Congress "leverage to get the minority to cooperate," a House aide said. To get the defense programs they want, Republicans would have to stop "procedurally holding up the House," he said.

Meanwhile, the military - and the rest of the U.S. government - is being funded through a "continuing resolution" that provides money at 2009 rates. The 2010 fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Passage of the 2010 defense appropriations bill might be delayed until late November or December, say congressional staffers and analysts watching the bill.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Appropriations Committee staffers are resolving most of the differences between the two bills. The major differences, however, will have to be resolved by the senior leaders of the two committees.

Those include disagreements on:

■ C-17 cargo planes. The House wants to spend $674 million to buy three; the Senate wants to spend $2.6 billion to buy 10.

■ The alternate JSF engine. The House has voted to spent $560 million on it; the Senate voted to spend nothing.

■ The presidential helicopter. The House voted to spend $485 million to make five helicopters operational. The Senate calls for starting a new helicopter program.

■ DDG-51 destroyer. The Senate added $1.7 billion to the bill for an additional ship. The House wants to buy just one.

■ Kinetic Energy Interceptor. The House wants $80 million to preserve the program. The Senate, like the White House, wants to kill it. ■

E-mail: [email protected].


Regular Member
Oct 14, 2009
It's about 50% of total military spending in the world, 9-10 times larger than that of China.


Regular Member
Aug 14, 2009
China's official spending can't be compared to Us spending. B'cos unlike US bill chinese bill doesn't pass through the house with clarity. China can keep costs way down. The j-10 project cost $ 500 million. But a similar US program the f-16 cost 15 billion. The Us still fights two wars and has enormous security obligations such as taiwan, nato etc. Also maintaining 11 aircraft carriers, foreign bases takes a great toll. So there has been no great increase in military expenditure in real terms, compared to china.

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