Watered Down?

Congress has asked the services for their 2010 unfunded requirements, if any, as has been the tradition for at least the last 10 years. However, on April 30 Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent each service chief and combatant commander a memo—we obtained a copy–admonishing them to run any unfunded priority lists through him before they go to Congress. He wrote, “Should you determine there are FY 2010 unfunded requirements that are responsive to the request from Congress, I expect you to first inform me of such a determination so we can schedule the opportunity for you to brief me on the details.” There are varying viewpoints on the value of these unfunded lists—some believe they skew needs toward individual services rather than the joint force, while others believe they have given Congress unfettered insight into military requirements. Certainly, on an Air Force priority list we would expect to see an additional number of F-22s, given that USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has stated that he believes the US military needs 243 F-22 Raptors, not the 187 the Office of the Secretary of Defense has declared sufficient. Both Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley have acknowledged fiscal reality, saying buying more F-22s means doing without something else.