$30 Billion Defense Funding Request Aims at Readiness
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon released a fiscal 2017 defense supplemental request seeking $30 billion that was aimed primarily at fixing near-term readiness by adding funds for training and maintenance and starting to address long-term readiness by buying new aircraft and equipment and adding personnel. The extra funds would boost the total 2017 defense funding request to $619 billion.
The Department of the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, would get an additional $9.4 billion in base budget and overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds. That would fill “critical shortfalls in ship maintenance,” pay for additional aircraft spare parts and maintenance and additional flight hours for the Navy and provide additional counter-UAS capabilities, precision fires and additional exercises and training for the Marines.
It also would buy 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets, six P-8As patrol planes, two C-40A transports and 96 additional Tomahawk missiles for the Navy, two MV-22s and three G/ATOR radar systems for the Marines.
And the added funds would cover “must-pay” bills created by the National Defense Authorization Act, including adding 36,000 additional personnel and providing a 2.1 percent pay raise for the military, instead of the 1.5 percent requested in the budget.
Most of the personnel increase goes to the Army, but it also includes 2,426 additional Marines, less than the Corps wanted, and about 3,500 more sailors, more than the Navy requested.
But in presenting the request for added funds March 16, cting Defense Comptroller John Roth said the Pentagon’s most urgent plea was for Congress to pass a full-year fiscal 2017 defense appropriations bill, including the supplemental to replace the continuing resolution (CR) that is funding all of the government at basically 2016 levels.
The current CR is approaching six months, making it one of the longest ever, Roth said. If Congress would resort to replacing the CR that expires April 26 with a full-year CR, “we would find that extremely harmful,” he said.
Roth noted that the total requested for the current year, including the supplemental, was billions above the limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act and would require Congress to repeal of amend that law, which could result in a major fight.
The supplemental seeks $24.9 billion in base budget funds and $5.1 billion in OCO money, which would pay for command and control and other capabilities to start meeting President Donald Trump’s order to accelerate the fight against ISIS extremists, said Roth and Army Lt. Gen. Anthony Leradi, director for force structure, resources and assessments on the Joint Staff.
Roth was unable to provide any details on the defense part of the fiscal 2018 budget framework that the White House also released March 16, which requests a total of $639 billion including OCO funds, according to a chart Roth presented. But language in the framework of the so-called skinny budget said the money would start “rebuilding the Navy to better address current and future threats by increasing the total number of ships.”
Roth said they would expect to release fiscal 2018 budget details in about a month, and again pleaded with Congress to pass it before Oct. 1, to avoid another CR.