As expected, President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 defense budget request reflects significant changes in the force structure of the military, adjustments in major weapons systems, and a proposal for two consecutive rounds of base realignment and closure (BRAC).
The fiscal 2013 proposal, contained in the president’s budget message delivered today to Congress, calls for a $525.4 billion topline budget—a reduction of $5.2 billion from the current fiscal year. In addition, the budget calls for $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, primarily the war in Afghanistan, which is down $26.6 billion.
The request generally follows the preliminary budget outlined three weeks ago by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and defined by the president’s strategic military guidance released early in January.
Part of that strategy calls for more dependence on next-generation technologies. Accordingly, the budget provides for $3.8 billion for unmanned air systems, $3.4 billion for cyber operations, $9.7 billion in ballistic missile defense, $8 billion for space systems, and $11.9 billion in science and technology. The final figure includes $2.1 billion for basic research.
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller/CFO) Robert Hale told reporters in a budget briefing at the Pentagon that the budget requests, but does not reflect, two rounds of BRAC adjustments in 2013 and 2015. Hale says that savings from the pair of BRAC rounds will not be factored into future spending until they are approved by Congress and the president.
Reflecting the end of combat activities in Iraq and a winding down of American involvement in Afghanistan, the budget also calls for significant force reductions:
Between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, the budget projects total cuts of $75 billion, including $15.1 billion from what Panetta described as a “slowdown” in the procurement of the F-35 joint strike fighter and $13.1 billion in postponement of a number of planned Navy ships.
The budget also includes a 1.7 percent military pay increase and no changes to the military retirement system in 2013. The Pentagon is asking Congress to establish a BRAC-style commission to determine future changes to the current retirement system. The budget also calls for a 0.5 percent pay raise for civilian Defense Department employees.
The unclassified topline budget requested for the military intelligence program is $19.2 billion.