President Obama on Monday asked the Congress to provide $671 billion for the Defense Department in Fiscal 2012. This request includes $553 billion in discretionary budget authority to fund base defense programs and $118 billion to support overseas contingency operations, primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq. “This budget represents a reasonable, responsible and sustainable level of funding, the minimum level of defense spending that is necessary, given the security challenges we are facing around the globe,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The OCO portion is $41.5 billion below the Fiscal 2011 request of $159.3 billion because it reflects the planned withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of December and a modest decline in funding for Afghanistan operations. (DOD release) (DOD webpage for Fiscal 2012 budget documents)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.