Pentagon Leaders: 2024 Finances is ‘First and Foremost’ About Procurement

At $886 billion, the Pentagon’s 2024 finances request is “at first … a procurement finances,” declared Deputy Protection Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks March 13, because the finances was unveiled. The spending plan marks a shift from the Biden administration’s first two finances requests, which prioritized analysis and improvement over new weapons.

However investing in new weapons requires the cooperation of Congress, and administration officers argued strenuously for lawmakers to move spending laws earlier than the following fiscal yr begins Oct. 1. More money within the remaining spending plan is much less helpful than on-time passage of the invoice, they stated. .

The administration is looking for a report finances for procurement in addition to analysis, improvement, testing, and analysis, Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III stated in an announcement.

All instructed, DOD is looking for $170 billion for weapons acquisition in fiscal 2024, up about $24 billion—or 16.4 % from its request a yr in the past. The requested RDT&E finances can also be up considerably at $145 billion, a $15 billion improve, or 11.5 %, over the 2023 request.

One main driver: munitions. The administration needs so as to add predictability and value stability for munitions by shopping for extra munitions in multiyear blocks. Some $30 billion of the finances is tabbed for munitions, most for acquisition.

“The factor that’s latest and largest might be munitions,” famous Pentagon comptroller Michael J. McCord. “That is new within the sense of the emphasis of this finances …. Ukraine has actually knowledgeable and highlighted the necessity to up our sport right here.”

Billions extra pays for brand spanking new F-35, F-15EX, and KC-46 plane, in addition to funds for Navy plane carriers and submarines, and new automobiles for the Military and Marine Corps.

Weapons purchases make up a little bit over 19 % of DOD’s 2024 finances request, the best share to date since President Biden was elected.

“[The budget] places its thumb on the size in favor of game-changing capabilities that may ship not simply within the out-years, however within the near-term, too,” Hicks stated.

The finances request begins a months-long course of, throughout which lawmakers are seemingly so as to add funds for added purchases. Within the final finances cycle, for fiscal 2023, legislators elevated procurement funding by $17.7 billion, to $163.7 billion.

That motion took some time. Congress didn’t move the protection spending measures till Dec. 24, after a number of persevering with resolutions had been wanted to maintain the federal government funded after the fiscal yr ended almost three months earlier. CRs have turn into routine measures to maintain the federal government from shutting down whereas political leaders negotiate spending agreements—solely as soon as prior to now 14 fiscal years did Congress move a spending measure on time.

‘If you happen to add up the months DOD has been beneath a CR since 2011, it totals 4 years’ value of
delays—delayed new program begins, delayed coaching, delayed everlasting change of station
strikes,” Hicks stated. “That’s 4 years misplaced over the past decade-plus. To out-compete the [People’s Republic of China], we can not have one hand tied behind our again for 3, 4, 5, six months out of every yr. And let me guarantee you: extra money can not purchase again misplaced time.“

Requested if he would relatively have extra money delivered later within the yr or a smaller finances on time, McCord echoed Hicks.

“The factor Congress can do for us and does do for us is present assets,” McCord stated. “However writing a examine doesn’t remedy each drawback. And so the time that you simply lose, you can’t make up with extra money. It’s only a truth. There are issues you can deal with with extra money, however there are additionally issues you can’t.”

Republican leaders in Congress have already attacked the Pentagon finances request as “inadequate,” and even Democratic lawmakers have left open the chance for change. A rise would seemingly put the general topline previous $900 billion—and set the stage for the primary $1 trillion protection finances within the coming years.

“Do the mathematics: the finances will hit a trillion {dollars},” McCord stated. “Even when it solely grew three % a yr, when the numbers are what they’re, it’s inevitable. And I feel possibly that’s going to be a psychological, huge watershed second for many of us or a few of us. However it’s inevitable. And it simply displays the expansion of the financial system.”

Protection spending was as soon as at 9 % of Gross Nationwide Product; through the Reagan administration, at close to the tip of the Chilly Warfare, it was thought of excessive at 6 %. At this time, protection spending is round 3 %. In order a lot as is being spent, it’s a smaller portion of the general financial system.

“It’s a giant quantity,” McCord stated. “However in different contexts, you might take a look at it one other manner.”