The Pentagon has nearly finished building its 2017 budget, and should be able to submit it on time, Defense Department comptroller Mike McCord said Monday in Washington, D.C. The budget is in the program review phase, he said, and though everything has been discussed “at least once,” there are a few more programs to nail down, including the European Reassurance Initiative, the particulars of overseas contingency operations funding, and compensation. “It’s crunch time, for sure,” he said. One of the ways the department will accommodate the $15 billion reduction from what was planned is to slow down “some modernization programs,” McCord said, though he did not offer details about which programs may be affected. The budget also will take the new military retirement system into account, which may bring some savings in the short-term. However, he said, the services shouldn’t expect to see any significant changes in the size of the force.
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.