Eye of the Beholder

If a Humvee gets destroyed in the war on terror, it should be replaced in a war supplemental budget. If an airplane gets lost or worn down to a non-flyable condition in the same war, it should come out of the base budget. That is the view of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and a growing list of lawmakers who question why the Air Force would include F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in its supplemental funding request when the aircraft won’t be available until around 2010. At a March 6 House Budget Committee hearing, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England defended the Air Force position, saying that “there is a principle that’s very important, and that is, as we lose equipment … we do need to recover the costs of the equipment lost. … If we don’t do that, it’s true, it won’t affect us this year or next year but, at some point in the future, we will be short equipment.” Having said that, England stated that the Pentagon likely would “re-allocate and re-prioritize … [and] because of other pressing needs, we will move those to the bottom of the priority list.”