Baseline Drive:

Tying the annual defense budget to four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product makes sense and it appears to be an opportune time to take up the issue at a national level, Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, said Thursday. Doing so, would ease the services’ existing shortfalls and allow each military branch to plan more efficiently and effectively over the long term, which is harder to do under the current system of using emergency supplemental wartime appropriations to address pressing shortfalls, Moseley told the Defense Writers Group Feb. 28. “What some of us have been saying is why don’t we look at something that is about four percent as a floor and try to get the supplemental business into the baseline budget,” he said. Current defense budgets run at around 3.5 percent of GDP, the lowest level in terms of percentage compared to any other time of war, Moseley said. When recent emergency wartime supplemental appropriations are factored, that figure rises to around 4.6 percent. However, operating with the annual supplementals is not conducive to laying in stable long-term capital investments, he said. A better way is to raise the Pentagon’s topline. In rough numbers, increasing the defense budget to four percent of GDP would bring in an extra $80 billion to $100 billion annually over current levels, Moseley said. “It would help all of us,” he said, referring to USAF and the other services. The Air Force estimates that it is running short about $20 billion each year in covering its needs. Without more funds, USAF’s leadership has warned it can no longer assure that the US will enjoy air dominance in coming decades since the fleet continues to age and grow smaller. (For more read Our Share of the Pie)