Scaling back on wars, spending elsewhere
The expensive Joint Strike Fighter program will be slowed down to save money in the coming years
February 13th, 2012
01:19 PM ET

Scaling back on wars, spending elsewhere

By Larry Shaughnessy, with reporting from Elise Labott at the State Department

The Pentagon spelled out in billions of dollars on Monday precisely how it wants to save nearly half a trillion dollars in defense spending over the next five years, as the Department of Defense and other parts of the American national security apparatus sought to rebalance their books to account for new areas of concern.

Beginning this year, the military wants to spend far less on the war in Afghanistan compared with recent years as the U.S. draws down its forces, with an eye on the exit for most by the end of 2014.

In 2013, the Department of Defense expects to spend $88 billion on overseas contingency operations, almost all of it on the war in Afghanistan. That's compared with the $115 billion it expects to spend this year.

Those savings have to come from somewhere.

To find those savings, the plan is to cut $5.5 billion from the amount it pays for Afghan security forces, whose training is a key part of the plan to draw down U.S. forces.

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said those numbers surprised even him. "That is interesting. I don't know ... why that is. And it literally is cutting (the Afghan National Security Force) budget) in half."

In addition, $700 million will be cut from the budget for defeating improvised explosive devices, one of the deadliest weapons in the enemy's arsenal. The Iraq war still has some cost; $2.9 billion is budgeted to repair and replace equipment and replenish munitions.

The cuts come in part with the Obama administration's plan to reduce U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

"It just shows that things are winding down to an end. A lot of what (the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization) has been working on are things that, you know, 'we develop them now, and we can build them in the next year or two.' If we're not going to be there in a few years, then it stands to reason," Harrison said.

But not everything is going down in the overseas contingency budget. After two straight years in which the Army was given $1.9 billion to cover the costs of extra soldiers in Afghanistan, the 2013 request calls from $4.9 billion, even though the number of soldiers in Afghanistan is scheduled to drop.

"They are essentially getting around the budget plans that were passed in the budget control act by shifting $3 billion of Army personnel funding to the war budget," Harrison said. "So this is stuff that's not really war-related."

With the war in Iraq done and the war in Afghanistan given an end date, the military is planning its budget around future threats. "The force will no longer be sized for large scale, prolonged stability operations," according to the department's budget summary.

Monday's budget release mostly puts numbers on a defense budget strategy unveiled by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last month at a rare joint news conference at the Pentagon. At that time, Panetta said the budget would reflect a military that "will be more agile, more flexible, ready to deploy quickly," but to look at the numbers, you might think otherwise.

The overall U.S. Army budget is going up, while the Navy and Air Force budgets are dropping. Harrison called it a case of institutional inertia.

"I think what it reflects is that while there is an intent to shift, you know, within the military, I think it's harder to put it into practice in the budget, at least in this first year," he said.  "The strategic guidance talked about a greater reliance in sea and air power and less reliance on ground forces. What we see in the budget, the Army actually goes up and the Air Force and Navy budgets go down.  So it seems to be somewhat inconsistent with the strategy."

One of the most influential members of Congress is giving the budget a thumbs-up. Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement, "I have consistently said that we can rationally evaluate our national security strategy, our defense expenditures and the current set of missions we ask the military to undertake and come up with a strategy that enhances national security by spending taxpayer dollars more wisely and effectively. I believe this budget meets that goal."

Among other places the agency is saving money is the Joint Strike Fighter, the warplane of the future for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The department plans to save more than $15 billion by slowing the development and testing of the planes. A similar slowdown for the Army's ground combat vehicles and the Navy's shipbuilding program will save $1.3 billion and $13.1 billion, respectively.

Next year, all soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can expect a basic pay raise of 1.7%, but starting in 2015, the Department of Defense plans to reduce raises, with an eye toward saving more than $29 billion over the next five years. In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs is requesting a 4.5% budget increase to support its various health, job and family programs.

But not everything is being cut. Programs like Special Operations forces, unmanned aerial systems, cyber capabilities, missile defense, space initiatives and the new Air Force tankers are expected to see budget increases.

The military will also spend to eventually save, almost tripling the money invested in energy conservation to $1 billion.

Intelligence funding is being requested at $52.6 billion, which will enhance cybersecurity capabilities, according to the intelligence budget summary. That's a slight decrease from the $55 billion that the director of national intelligence was expected to request in 2012 (official 2012 numbers will not be released until later this year).

Obama requested $51.6 billion in discretionary funding on Monday for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development for fiscal year 2013, an increase of only 1.6% over last year.

The discretionary funding includes $43.4 billion for the core budget, with an additional $8.2 billion in a separate "overseas contingencies operations" account in the front-line states of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The overseas contingency funding requested is about $3 billion, or 26%, less than the enacted level for fiscal year 2012.

"Even in tough times, this request represents a smart and strategic investment. The State Department and USAID are among the most effective - and cost effective - tools we have to create economic opportunity and keep Americans safe," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in her letter accompanying the budget request.

"We know that this is a time of fiscal constraint and economic hardship for the American people. So we are seeking out every opportunity to work smarter and more efficiently. We have proposed painful but responsible cuts without compromising our national security mission."

The State Department suffered major budget cuts last year, accounting for the slight increase over fiscal 2012 levels as enacted by Congress in the latest appropriations bill. Still, the increase is minimal, considering the State Department's growing responsibilities in front-line states.

For Iraq, the State Department requested 10% less than the current fiscal-year level. Obama asked for $4.8 billion for civilian-led missions in Iraq, including about $1.8 billion to fund police training and military-assistance programs inherited from the Department of Defense. Another $2.7 billion in operations funding would primarily support the Embassy, which has grown to about 16,000 diplomats and contractors in Baghdad, and three consulates.

The State Department requested $4.6 billion for projects in Afghanistan, including $2.5 billion slated for counterterrorism-related programs, reconciliation and reintegration efforts, and other assistance. An additional $2.1 billion will support the expansion of the diplomatic and other U.S. personnel in the country, as well as public diplomacy programs.

The budget request includes $770 million for a Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to deal with the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Although the funding has not been programmed, officials say the money will go to assist countries in transition as they enact political and economic reforms.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Cyg

    “nuclear explosive decive,” as long as it doesn’t actually put nuclear material into the deciveThis is really not a primary issue, what is a nuclear explosive decive, because the US is trying to impose limits on Iran's nuclear program drastically more stringent than that. But it in a way is a somewhat interesting question.A gasoline engine has two characteristics it consumes gasoline to achieve its purpose, and after the gasoline is consumed, it is ready for more gasoline to continue serving that purpose.A diamond ring does not have either of those characteristics. Once the diamond is gone, it is no longer a diamond ring. To say I have a diamond ring, I just haven't added the diamond is nonsense.A fertilizer bomb uses fertilizer to make an explosion, but after the explosion, there is no bomb. How language is most commonly used, a fertilizer bomb, just without fertilizer, is not a fertilizer bomb. There is no such thing as a fertilizer bomb with no fertilizer.A wine glass holds wine, and after the wine is gone can take more wine.A glass bottle does not consume glass, it is glass. Take away the glass and you don't have a glass bottle.A black-label bottle does not use black labels to accomplish some function. Take away the black-label and you still have a bottle, but not a black-label bottle. Put the label back on and you have a black-label bottle again.An alcoholic beverage uses alcohol to accomplish a function, but once the alcohol is gone, the alcoholic beverage is gone. Common English language use does not sensibly describe an beverage without alcohol as an alcoholic beverage without alcohol. A nuclear explosive decive, just with no nuclear material and that cannot explode. There is not a good analogy between the explosive material and the gasoline in a gasoline engine. It is more like an alcoholic beverage that just has no alcohol which is to say, not an alcoholic beverage.Did the negotiators of the NPT intend for nuclear explosive decive to define decives that have no fissile material but that would be explosive if fissile material was added? I see no indication of that, and it is not how the English language is commonly used now or then.This is only superficially interesting. A Japan option does not require that. The United States began staging troops in Iraq's border in Fall 2002 and invaded in Spring 2003. That's roughly the minimum timeframe that the US requires its planners to be sure Iran or a potential US target state must not be able to build a nuclear bomb. If that is not reasonably sure, the US would not even commit to preparations for an attack.But also, has Japan, in studying North Korea's program built a mock-up of the kind of weapon Korea's technological capabilities could produce? If it does not add fissile material, it does not have to declare it. Maybe it has, but that doesn't make a difference because that does not play an important role in the calculation of how long it would take, if provoked for Japan to build a weapon with which it could retaliate.Iran has the right to the same degree of nuclear flexibility as Japan. So far nobody has introduced an argument based on any principle disputing that. As long as the US denies that right to countries in Israel's region, that is the foundation of the nuclear dispute. It is really to be caught in side issues to focus on anything else.Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu want us talking about anything regarding Iran's nuclear issue other than their intention that Israel have a monopoly on nuclear capability in its region.

    March 3, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  2. Church

    Well, it was me, Saint Ronald Rayguns.

    February 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  3. Jerry

    To the CNN writer that wrote the article that F-35's couldnt land or take off on carriers. Above picture proves otherwise. Ive seen video shot by the Marine Corps that shows otherwise. The above aircraft is the F-35B it has VSTOL tech the other branches of service opted away from that. Probably kicking themselves over it now. But as usual the Marine Corps looked ahead.

    February 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  4. Dilip Samuels

    America has yet to recover from self-inflicted wounds of war...unnecessary wars started by its Presidents with egos

    The ultimate tragedy...America is almost down to bankruptcy, its poverty rates high and it's child poverty rates shockingly high, it's roads and bridges crumbling, it's young people can't get the new age jobs which requires specialized skills

    Oh! America, America...how the mighty has fallen

    The Republican Party should be banned from America..

    February 14, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • Random

      You that people that have gotten us into wars are from both parties. The people that have created the debt, the spending, the real-estate bubble... have all been from both parties. I hate neo-cons as much as the next guy, but don't forget the past as democrats are just as much to blame for recent events as are republicans.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  5. Larry in Houston

    Republicans way of thinking : no abortions, Ever, no matter what – even if the 11 yr old girl was raped or was a case of Incest – This way, when we have babies when they grow up to be between the ages of 18 – 21 we can send all the deformed ones to the front line. This way, the 'life' wouldn't matter as much.

    Democrats way of thinking : We want healthy and able people on our front lines, this way, there is a huge chance they will return Home.

    February 14, 2012 at 9:56 am | Reply
  6. Sayan Majumdar

    It may be a controversial statement; however United States Air Force (USAF), United States (USN), and United States Marine Corps (USMC) may do well with a “single fighter policy” with versions of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor holding the fort until Boeing Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicles (UACV) enter to complement the forces.

    Austere versions (thus also significantly cheaper) of F-22 may be cleared (bypassing Obey’s amendment) for export to allied nations.

    Sayan.

    February 14, 2012 at 6:39 am | Reply
  7. Letalis Metal

    Ha! You think my statement only applies to America? No, all of us every single one of us are the same.America does not even have 300 years of history and what the U.S. has done is horrible enough. Europe, Asia and everyone else are tainted much more. Crusades, hundred years war, Russian revolts.....c'mon you think anyone in this world has any right to call murder? This budget is going to kill the U.S. even faster. War mongers will always remain in this world because man lives in this world. The only way to fix anything is through radical social reforms but no one will agree to it because we want to be "happy". This is what the people want? Fine just don't be whinning in the end, we all need to learn from our mistakes and stop using scapegoats. This happens when you vote foolish congressmen into office. Don't be scared of America be afraid of everyone. Anyone has the capability to harm you.

    February 14, 2012 at 4:08 am | Reply
    • jOE

      Catamount! Australians are grateful that the Japanese bombed the f out of Pearl harbour ( yes, it was a tragic loss of life ) but other wise we Aussies would be speaking Japanese and German today as the USA was unwilling to come to the aid of the rest of the world and had to be brought into the conflict kicking and screaming. Today americans love war and have been involved in every single conflict since world war 2. We understand that the USA would only come to our aid if there was something in it for them. We pander to the USA. America has a military base in every country in the world that they can intimidate, coerce into having. Hail glorious self appointed military world rulers.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  8. DOWNLOAD MP4/3GP VIDEOS FOR FREE PLEASE NOTE: U MUST BE 18

    well said gbam!!

    February 14, 2012 at 3:00 am | Reply
  9. DEEJ

    "The military will also spend to eventually save...". Hold on to your wallets! You know when they say they are going to "spend to save" the spend will be more than the "save".

    February 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  10. Letalis Metal

    You people are sad, you think that if we leave it's going to better? Would you rather have groups focus on the troops over seas or have them attack us here? America has never seen a real war since the civil war. All this whining about lets practice pacifism is down right crazy, you want oil prices to remain low as possible for us? You want all the good stuff? Someone has to die so that we can listen to an over priced ipod product. I may be somewhat wrong but why are we hesitating to kill when America itself was stolen from natives, we killed a massive amount of natives, you know thats called murder? Your ancestor and us don't have clean hands. So people stop complaining, you either rule of NOT. If we are not going to be a world super power someone will. There is no such thing as justice, we all live for ourselves. America needs to sufer, it needs to realize how it truly is out there. WE ARE ALL DANGEROUS, either it be the tea party or the taliban. We created this problem and now our turn to suffer. Wake up.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
    • Thirsty

      Aaaahhh.....a pragmatist.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • jOE

      americans scare the f out of me and a lot of other Australians, warmongering revengeful self appointed glorious world rulers, why can't they all stay at home? the world would be a much better place

      February 14, 2012 at 2:18 am | Reply
      • Catamount

        Joe, one and a half billion Chinese covet your mineral wealth. If they choose force to take it, who will stop them? Australians? Like you stopped the Japanese invasion of Australia in the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea? Oh that’s right – it was the American Navy, which still preserves open sea lanes and regional stability you benefit from everyday. You’re welcome.

        When Indonesia fragments like Yugoslavia under weak leadership that cannot contend with insurgencies like Timor and Aceh and its 250 million inhabitants flee towards Australia, one tenth of that population, who will stop them? You?

        Numerically inferior and impotent against most regional threat scenarios, you must form alliances at risk of eradication.

        Acknowledge that you’re an ungrateful security freeloader, and dread the day that America does as you recommend and scales back. Your assumption that the world will be more peaceful with less American military presence is foolhardy in the extreme. There will be greater conflict, death, and destruction, and it will arrive on your doorstep.

        "If history is any teacher, it teaches that when you get indifferent and you lose the will to fight, some other guy who has the will to fight will take you over."

        February 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  11. Coflyboy

    Ah... FINALLY some sensible news. Of course we need a strong military. However, if we'd stop bullying and policing every other country unwilling to abide by OUR ideals, maybe we wont need a huge military budget.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Thirsty

      Listen, buddy – you keep talkin' common sense, then "Homeland Security's" gonna haul your ass away in the middle of the night.
      Just like in Stalinist Russia.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Reply
      • mdamone

        Yeah, 'cause that's what they do. Haul away citizens for simply speaking their minds under 1st Amendment protection. Happens everyday.

        Moron.

        February 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
      • Thirsty

        Give it time, mdamone. Give it time.

        February 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  12. DenverDave101

    plan is to cut $5.5 billion from the amount it pays for Afghan security forces, whose training is a key part of the plan to draw down U.S. forces.

    Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said those numbers surprised even him. "That is interesting. I don't know ... why that is. And it literally is cutting (the Afghan National Security Force) budget) in half."

    Simple math means that US Taxpayers (no one asked our permission) are paying $11 BILLION DOLLARS a year for the Afghan National Security Force. Hmmmm. Funny really. Why is America paying for the salaries of a foreign nation's security force WHILE we have US troops inside the country, securing that country? Why pay for ANY foreign security forces? The Afghans are as useless as the Iraqis and just as motivated. Hill people, really. The moment we leave, they'll revert to their tribal rabid Islamic ways.. so all this money is a ghastly WASTE... remind me again, WHY are we in Afghanistan at all? Taliban .... back when. Then we left... then when Obama moved out of Iraq- the DOD has to have an excuse for an ever increasing budget... so .. Afghanistan... What a monumental waste of money.

    February 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  13. DOWNLOAD MP4/3GP VIDEOS FOR FREE PLEASE NOTE: U MUST BE 18

    violence has to stop, there should be a way out!

    February 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  14. mipolitic

    good some body has to stop the bleeding, but may i also say that there are those that we can not simply ignor and hope they go away. bush and cheney drove the usa into a financial mess along with a human life price tag that is priceless. folks there is iran and its not going to go away , in fact its only going to get much worse, and it has to be confronted before it conducts a covert opp through some terror group with the most ugly weapon man has made. iran has decades of history of operating through terrorist and than denying any involvement. obama must have the fortitude and the resolve to remove this nuke threat of iran , no nation building just take out the threat.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
    • TheTruth

      While I disagree with your assessment of Bush/Cheney, I do agree that Iran is a serious threat to be reckoned with. Also, never forget China, for they are the ultimate players just waiting in the shadows to slowly but surely dominate us. As for MIL cuts, there are so many other areas which we can cut from in this country first, including the ludicrous welfare system. The DOD should never be at the top of the list for funding cuts. Heck, we just cut funding from NASA space exploration, meanwhile their Earth sciences division received additional funding despite the fact that we already have multiple governmental entities that are primarily involved in that area (eg, NOAA, and the USGS)! The priorities are completely askew here.

      February 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
      • You cant handle The Truth

        Mr. Truth...there is much evidence to show that DOD/military spending is just a ludicrous as the wellfare system. The US accounts for nearly 45% of worldwide military spending and as much as the next 20 countries combined. We have over 700 military bases wordwide many of which have no bearing on our current situation (WW2 ended 70+ years ago). And even in our current environment of massive debt, no one from the repub or tea party side is willing to make cuts or even slow the rate of growth. In this sense you are "liberals" that protect/whine whenver funding is reduced. ALL spending needs to be cut whether for military, schools, entittlements there are no sacred cows my friend...

        February 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
      • Coflyboy

        Depends on what you call askew. I would rather we save some money in the military arena and invest it in America's infrastructure and educate our kids so they can compete in a global economy. I mean, guns, missiles, airplanes, cannons and ships are cool and everything, but we can stop buying boy's toys and get serious. After all, those are YOUR kids we want to educate, right?

        February 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • mdamone

      Actually, we have EXACTLY as much evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons as we did that Iraq was developing WMD's. In fact, we had MORE evidence on Iraq, since 1) Hussein boasted that he had WMD's and 2) he had actually used them against Kurds in the North AND Iran during the Iran/Iraq War. Ever see the pic's of Kurdish women and babies lying in the streets dead? Mustard gas does that.
      Yet you criticize Bush/Cheney and in the same post call for the elimination of Iran as a nuclear threat by Obama.
      Wow. Either you forgot recent history, or were too young for Gulf War I, or you have a selective memory....or you're completely skewed by political leanings and not embracing historical reality.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Reply
      • The Bearded Clam

        Any guesses as to who sold the Iraqi's all those wonderful weapons?

        February 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm |

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