Adds $155 Billion to Long-Term Outlook
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is asking Congress to fund it to the tune of $24.9 billion more in fiscal 2016 than was enacted in 2015 when the base and wartime budgets are combined, budget documents released Monday confirm.
That increase comes from a $38.2 billion increase in the base budget request, and a $13.3 billion decrease from 2015 in the overseas contingency operations (OCO) request.
The request would shoot past the congressionally mandated budget cap of $499 billion for 2016, as the Obama administration has long pledged to do.
The raw topline numbers have been public for the past week: an overall $585.3 billion request for base and supplemental wartime accounts, which includes $534.3 billion in base funding and $50.9 billion OCO request for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq/Syria, Europe, Africa, and elsewhere.
Significantly, the administration has also readjusted its five-year future budgetary outlook to add $15.5 billion to the projected outlay between 2016 and 2020. That long-term plan is now a full $155 billion higher than the spending caps imposed on Congress under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Overall, the Pentagon wants to spend $107.7 billion on procurement, and $69.8 billion on research and development, with $12.3 billion falling within that for science and technology spending. The biggest areas there include $48.8 billion for aircraft, $25.6 billion for shipbuilding, $8.2 billion for ground systems and $11.9 billion for missiles and munitions.
In the 2016 budget, the Pentagon also doubles down on its force structure and equipment modernization reform requests from 2015, setting up a series of potential fights with Capitol Hill in the coming months.
The department “resubmits important reform proposals” from the 2015 budget, budgetary planners wrote in document made public Monday morning. “To make the most of limited resources, we are driving down the cost of doing business. Proposals include divestiture of the Air Force’s A-10 aircraft, a restructuring of Army aviation, authority for a new round of base realignment and closure, and compensation reform.”
The objective force remains 49 tactical fighter squadrons, 54 Army brigade combat teams, 14 ballistic missile submarines, 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 96 operational bombers (for a total of 154 overall), and a 304-ship Navy with 11 carriers.
There is movement in the $50.9 OCO request, which includes $7.9 billion in equipment reset and $8 billion in classified programs, both of which can act as something of an added procurement and acquisition account. These equipment reset activities will need to continue for two to three years after 2016, the documents state.
The Obama administration also announces in this year’s request that 2016 will be one of the last years that a separate OCO request will be submitted, and it will lay out plans shortly to phase the account out between 2016 and 2020 by pushing more money into the base budget.
With a new administration coming into the White House to implement the 2017 budget however, any plans along these lines are contingent on the priorities of the incoming White House team.
And when adding up the base and OCO budgets, all of the services gain over last year — expect for the Army which ends up with $147.1 billion, as opposed to last year’s $147.5 billion in overall funding.
The Air Force is the biggest gainer, adding $14.8 billion to hit $167.3 billion, while the Navy Department tacks on an additional $9.2 billion to reach $167.9 billion total.
It’s clear that despite the budget caps the trend this year is up — at least before Congress takes its turn cutting up budget lines and either enforcing the $499 billion budget cap or reaching a spending deal that incorporates both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
In addition to the other increases, operations and maintenance spending is slated to increase by $14 billion, procurement by another $14 billion, and $6 billion in research and development funding has been added over the 2015 enacted numbers.
In the end, the numbers released Monday show that “the big iconic weapons programs are well supported and that will resonate with investors who own shares of the primes,” said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.
“Investors may admire the budget request, but not necessarily bank on it,” he added. “It is far from clear how Congress will address larger budget issues that could defuse the Budget Control Act and the threat of sequestration.”