By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Feb. 2, 2010 - The President's Fiscal 2011 Defense Budget request grows a department fighting two wars and attacking an amorphous terror network, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Reforming the department's acquisitions system and related processes also is important, Gates said. The secretary bluntly told senators today that he will recommend President Barack Obama veto the 2011 budget if it contains continued C-17 airlifter production and a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The base budget – the budget without the money funding actions in Iraq and Afghanistan – is $549 billion, 3.4 percent increase over the current budget and a 1.8 percent real increase after adjusting for inflation.
The budget request reflects the administration's commitment to modest, steady and sustainable real growth in defense spending, the secretary said.
But overall, the budget request is $708 billion. "We are also requesting $159 billion in FY 2011 to support overseas contingency operations, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus $33 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year to support the added financial costs of the president's new approach in Afghanistan," Gates said.
DoD officials asked that Congress pass the $33 billion fiscal 2010 supplemental before Memorial Day, as delays would mean that other parts of the military would be starved for funds.
"The commitments made and the programs funded in the overseas contingency operations and supplemental requests demonstrate the administration's determination to support our troops and commanders in combat so they can accomplish their critical missions and come home safely," Gates said.
The base budget reflects the major continuing priorities of the defense department. The base budget is what department officials think is a continuing and real need for the department. Gates has been shifting monies from supplemental requests to the base budget since he's been in office. Having a place in the base budget means that "you are at the table" when monetary decisions are being made, the secretary said.
Today's wars were being funded via supplemental funding. Gates has said that prevailing in today's wars must be front and center in the department and that the funding needs to be institutionalized within the base budget.
People lead the list of priorities for the base budget, which the secretary said reaffirms and strengthens "the nation's commitment to care for the all-volunteer force, our greatest strategic asset."
The second priority addressed within the budget, Gates said, involves "rebalancing America's defense posture by emphasizing capabilities needed to prevail in current conflicts, while enhancing capabilities that may be needed in the future."
A third budget priority, he said, focuses on "continuing the department's commitment to reform how DoD does business, especially in the area of acquisitions."
The Quadrennial Defense Review informs the base budget request, Gates said. "The 2010 QDR and fiscal 2011 budget build upon the substantial changes that the president made in the fiscal 2010 budget request to allocate defense dollars more wisely and reform the department's processes," he told the senators.
The fiscal 2011 budget builds on changes the secretary recommended last year, including ending the following programs: the Navy EP(X) intelligence aircraft; the Third Generation Infrared Surveillance program; the next generation CG(X) cruiser; the Net Enabled Command and Control program; and the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System due to cost overruns and performance concerns.
Gates also said he wants to complete the C-17 program and close the production line, saying studies in recent years show that the Air Force already has more of the aircraft than it needs.
Gates also wants to end the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. "I am fully aware of the political pressure to continue building the C-17 and proceed with an alternate engine for the F-35," he said. "So let me be very clear: I will strongly recommend that the president veto any legislation that sustains the unnecessary continuation of these two programs."
The Defense Department is making tough choices and changing, Gates said, noting force sizing constructs as one example.
"For years, U.S. defense planning and requirements were based on preparing to fight two major conventional wars at the same time – a force-sizing construct that persisted long after it was overtaken by events," he told the committee. "The department's leadership now recognizes that we must prepare for a much broader range of security challenges on the horizon."
These threats range from the use of sophisticated new technologies to deny U.S. forces access to the global commons of sea, air, space and cyberspace to the threat posed by non-state groups delivering more cunning and destructive means to attack and terrorize – scenarios that transcend the familiar contingencies that dominated U.S. planning after the Cold War, Gates said.
"We have learned through painful experience that the wars we fight are seldom the wars that we plan," Gates said. "As a result, the United States needs a broad portfolio of military capabilities with maximum versatility across the widest possible spectrum of conflict."
This strategic reality has shaped the fiscal 2011 budget request, he said.