DOD Wants to Divert $3.8B from Weapons to Wall

The Pentagon wants to move $3.8 billion largely from weapons system accounts to pay for the planned wall along the southern border.

The Feb. 13 reprogramming request to Congress would take nearly $1.5 billion in funding already appropriated for the Air Force in 2020, including:

  • $156 million from appropriated advanced procurement funding for the F-35.
  • $196 million in base funding for C-130Js, resulting in the reduction of two airframes.
  • $169 million in OCO funding for C-130Js, resulting in the reduction of two more airlifters.
  • $160 million from MQ-9 procurement, resulting in the reduction of eight aircraft.
  • $180 million from the Air Force’s light attack experiment.
  • $205 million in “miscellaneous equipment” for the Air Force Reserve.
  • $395 million in “miscellaneous equipment” for the Air National Guard.

Those funds would break out as $2.2 billion from the base budget, plus $1.62 billion in funds appropriated for overseas contingency operations.

“This reprogramming action provides funding in support of higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements, … and is determined to be necessary in the national interest,” states the request, which was obtained by Air Force Magazine.

Outside of the Air Force, the funding shift would reduce the planned purchase of two F-35Bs, two V-22s, and one P-8, along with $911 million in shipbuilding funding for the Navy. 

Many of the programs that will take a hit received additional funding from Congress above the Pentagon’s original budget request.

The shift follows a Department of Homeland Security request to the Pentagon for assistance “in the execution of projects to replace existing vehicle barriers or dilapidated pedestrian fencing with new pedestrian fencing, construct roads, and install lighting,” states the request

The request prompted opposition from some lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement that the move will “prevent the acquisition of critical ships, vehicles, and aircraft.” While the Pentagon says it is moving forward with its National Defense Strategy and great power competition, the “policy simply does not match their rhetoric.”

HASC Ranking Member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement that the impacted appropriations were already passed by Congress and “the Department of Defense cannot change them in pursuit of their own priorities without the approval of Congress.” While Thornberry said the wall should be funded, the money should come from the Department of Homeland Security “rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law.”

Last spring, the Pentagon reprogrammed about $1.5 billion in fiscal 2019 appropriated funding, including procurement and modifications to systems such as E-3 AWACS, Minuteman IIIs, and Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, among others.