Gates Would Settle for Less in Fiscal 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, acknowledging “it’s unlikely” the Defense Department will receive the $553 billion that it requested in Fiscal 2011, said Monday he’d settle for $540 billion. He said this while briefing reporters in the Pentagon on DOD’s Fiscal 2012 spending proposal. There’s been no enacted Fiscal 2011 spending bill so far, and five months into the fiscal year, the Pentagon is operating under a continuing resolution. Sizing up the deficit-cutting fervor on Capitol Hill, Gates said the Pentagon could give up some of the requested amount, but the $540 billion figure is his bottom line. However, he warned that budget-cutting fever is becoming “increasingly distant from operational reality,” and budget-slashing exercises are “simple math divorced” from risk. DOD cannot give up funding the current war, nor can it simply stop modernizing or preparing for future challenges, he said. Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale explained that the give-back of $13 billion would come from reductions in the F-35 program, and take into account things such as the federal civilian pay freeze and other program modifications that have taken place since DOD officials submitted the Fiscal 2011 budget proposal one year ago. (For USAF’s perspective on the continuing resolution, read CR Woes) (Gates transcript) (Hale-Spencer transcript)