Pentagon officials have given Congress lists of “unfunded requirements” that are in addition to their official 2016 budget requests, attempting again to persuade lawmakers that fiscal austerity efforts are squeezing the Defense Department too tightly.
The military services have compiled similar lists in past years, providing some lawmakers with ammunition to argue for more military funding — perhaps at the expense of annually appropriated domestic spending, although that part of the budget already faces steep cuts.
The Pentagon’s budget already calls for spending in Fiscal 2016 that would exceed current caps by $34 billion. The latest wish lists would add more than $20 billion for everything from cyber security to more training to additional warplanes, according to a recent tally by Congressional Quarterly.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter underscored his view that these items and programs should only be approved with additional funding, not as replacements for things that are in the Pentagon’s main budget request.
Any additional defense spending, however, must be weighed not just against other military proposals but against non-defense priorities as well.
While considering these additional military requests, many lawmakers should also reconsider their past opposition to reasonable cost-saving proposals from Defense officials, notably in compensation.
Pentagon leaders and other defense experts have warned that military benefits, particularly in health care, will take up larger and larger shares of the military’s budget in the coming years unless changes are made.
Aircraft, Modernization Top DoD’s Unfunded List (Defense News)
Panel Urges Overhaul of Future Military Benefits (Concord)
GOP Budgets Move Forward Amid Debate on Defense Budgets (Concord)
Army Leaders Urge Congressional Relief From Sequester (Defense Department)