Defense

May 16, 2012

Pentagon chief slams House panel for budget extras

Tags: ,
by Donna Cassata
Associated Press

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta slammed a House panel recently for adding billions of dollars to President Barack Obama’s defense budget, including money for a new East Coast missile defense site that the military says is unnecessary.

Just hours after the House Armed Services Committee approved its $642 billion spending blueprint, Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the panel’s additions ignored the careful strategic review that was the basis for the 2013 budget proposal. They warned that if the Pentagon is prevented from retiring aging ships and aircraft or reducing the size of the force, it might have to cut training or equipment.

“If members try to restore their favorite programs without regard to an overall strategy, the cuts will have to come from areas that could impact overall readiness.” Panetta told reporters. “There is no free lunch here. Every dollar that is added will have to be offset by cuts in national security.”

The bill’s total is $8 billion more than what Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer in a deficit-cutting agreement. The spending blueprint outlines a base defense budget of $554 billion, including nuclear weapons spending, plus $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts. Obama had proposed $551 billion, plus $88 billion. The panel voted 56-5 for the measure early May 10 morning after more than 15 hours of bitter, partisan debate.

The House is expected to pass the bill next week, but several provisions and the overall amount stand little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Senate Armed Services Committee likely will craft a bill at a far lower amount, even below what Obama and Congress agreed to last summer.11

The House committee backed the new missile defense site, rejected the Pentagon’s call for a cost-saving round of domestic base closures and turned aside the Navy’s plans to retire three of four cruisers. It also rejected the Air Force’s plan to mothball 18 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.

Citing potential threats from Iran and North Korea, the committee added $100 million to study three possible sites for a missile defense system on the East Coast and complete it by the end of 2015. At the same time, the panel voted for additional funds for the West Coast missile defense site that is $30 billion and counting.

Since the mid-1980s, the Pentagon has spent nearly $150 billion on missile defense programs and envisions another $44 billion over the next five years. But it is not looking to construct a facility on the East Coast.

Asked specifically about the new missile defense site, Dempsey told reporters “the program of record for ballistic missile defense for the homeland, as we’ve submitted it, is adequate and sufficient to the task. And that’s a suite of ground-based and sea-based interceptors. So I don’t see a need beyond what we’ve submitted in the last budget.”

Republicans insist the additional money is critical because Obama is short-changing the military in the face of growing worldwide threats. The election-year salvo runs smack into polls showing solid approval ratings for Obama on national security. Democrats challenged the increased defense spending as inconsistent with repeated demands to slash the trillion dollar-plus deficit.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the Republican chairman of the committee, said the bill restores “fiscal sanity to a defense budget that is inconsistent with the threats America faces.” McKeon was one of several lawmakers on the committee who had voted for the deficit-cutting pact that envisions a reduction of $487 billion in projected defense spending over 10 years.

Panetta meeting with lawmakers said he was concerned that if Congress “now tries to reverse many of the tough decisions that we reached by adding several billion dollars to the president’s budget request, then they risk not only potential gridlock” but they also could “force the kind of trade-offs that could jeopardize our national defense.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith pointed out that the administration had based its budget on a strategic review of the threats to the nation. The committee, he said, simply dealt with the budget issue by issue and failed to come up with offsetting cuts to its changes.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox

Kunsan AB hosts Exercise Max Thunder 14-2

Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox A South Korean air force F-15 Strike Eagle lands Nov. 17, 2014, during Max Thunder 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft...
 
 

Three bases identified as F-16 aggressor candidate bases

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 6 during RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1. RF-A is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation...
 
 
Air Force photograph

Arc-heated facilities at AEDC offer unique test capabilities for hypersonic programs

Air Force photograph This photo shows the arc heater H3 being test fired prior to the installation of a model injection system. The AEDC High Temperature Materials Characterization and Evaluation is unique in capability and is ...
 

 
Navy photograph

U.S. Navy commemorates C-2 Greyhound’s 50th anniversary of first flight

Navy photograph Nov. 18 marked the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Navy’s C-2A Greyhound. The “workhorse” of the fleet took to the skies Nov. 18, 1964, from Bethpage, N.Y.   For nearly 50 years, the C-2A ...
 
 

Air Force announces criteria for KC-46A Reserve basing

After extensive internal review, the Air Force on Nov. 9, released the basing criteria that will be used to select candidate bases for the first Reserve-led KC-46A main operating base. The KC-46As will begin arriving at the first Air Force Reserve-led global mobility wing in fiscal year 2019. The basing criteria under consideration include mission...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin R. Babis

The footprint of the Jolly Green Giant

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin R. Babis Airmen from the 56th Rescue Squadron tackle Capt. Robert Smith, 56th Rescue Squadron executive officer, after his fini-flight, or final flight, at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, N...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>