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Think About the Next Trade-offs Now

 

November 30, 2009—According to a recent Congressional Research Service budget projection, if the defense budget remains flat beyond the current Future Years Defense Program, trade-offs will have to be "much more substantial" than the $60 billion in weapons cuts the services must make for the current FYDP, per the in-progress Quadrennial Defense Review. CRS analyst Stephen Daggett calls the $60 billion that will go to current operations rather than investment programs is "by no means unusual" within a budget cycle. However, he added that if the Pentagon persists in a fund "the wars we are in" mentality without making even a modest spending upturn, the "result, as one would expect, is a dramatic reduction in funding for weapons acquisition." In constant FY2010 prices, modernization would decline from $186 billion in 2010 to $127 billion in 2020. He continued, "In relative terms, that is a cut of 32 percent in funding to replace equipment and modernize the force between FY2010 and FY2020 in the base defense budget." Daggett suggests that the QDR should "discuss intermediate-term budget trade-offs" and that DOD should not rely on operations & maintenance savings to free up funds for modernization because, in the past, such savings simply "did not materialize."

Source: Testimony by Stephen Daggett, Specialist in Defense Policy and Budgets, Congressional Research Service, House Armed Services Committee, Nov. 18, 2009.