What’s Not in the Budget?

The Defense Department had to cut $17 billion from its top line budget—a requirement under the two-year bipartisan budget deal reached late last year—by chopping $11.2 billion from programs and by finding savings through inflation, lower fuel costs, and new efficiencies. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 forced the Pentagon to cut almost $22 billion from its total previous projection, and Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord told reporters on Tuesday the department had six weeks to get to this figure. The Pentagon relieved its base budget in part by moving $5 billion to the overseas contingency operations budget. Low fuel costs and lower inflation produced another $5.6 billion in savings. The rest had to come from programs and modernization, including $4.4 billion in aircraft procurement. The Pentagon cut five F-35As and three C-130Js from the Air Force, 24 UH-60 Black Hawks and 9 AH-64 Apaches from the Army, two V-22 Ospreys from the Navy, four Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle service life extension programs from the Navy, and 77 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles from the Marine Corps. Additional savings came from reduced shipbuilding, cutbacks in other procurement, and a $1.1 billion cut in military construction. “These are not things we’d love to do, certainly,” McCord said, but the Pentagon chose to cut some modernization to protect readiness and human capital. (Overview of the DOD’s Fiscal 2017 budget; Caution, large-sized file.)