Budget-Strategy Disconnect

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request is supposed to reflect the new national defense strategy—emphasizing air and sea forces versus land forces—but doesn’t, according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments. “If you look at [Fiscal] ’12 to ’13, the Army gains and the Navy and Marine Corps gain and the Air Force goes down,” said Harrison at a seminar sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va. He explained that “blue” Air Force funding—the service’s actual budget, excluding money it passes on to other defense and intelligence agencies—declined by three percent in the Fiscal 2013 budget proposal, while Army-specific funding goes up four percent and the Marine Corps sees a boost of about one percent. The ground arms maintain troop levels by funding them through the overseas contingency operations budget, instead of the base budget, he said. That “saves” the Army $4 billion and the Marines $1 billion, respectively, said Harrison during his Feb. 17 address. He suggested that such a ruse would be hard to maintain “when we are no longer in combat operations.”