Monday, February 14, 2011

DOD budget request for 2012 is out; procurement and UAVs are up, RDT&E is down, overseas military ops see drastic cuts

Posted by John Keller

The DOD budget request for fiscal 2012 was released today, and contains good news for military procurement, more disappointing news for research and development, the start of a wind-down of overseas military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is asking Congress for $670.9 billion in fiscal 2012, a 37.3 percent reduction from the 2011 request. The proposed $670.9 billion 2012 DOD budget contains $553.1 billion for normal Pentagon operations, a 4.2 percent increase from 2011 -- and $117.8 billion for military operations, which represents a 41.5 percent decrease from 2011. Federal fiscal year 2012 begins on 1 Oct. 2011.

The 2012 DOD budget request has $113.01 billion for procurement -- up from the 2011 request of $104.79 billion; $75.33 billion for research and development -- a drop from the 2011 request of $80.39 billion; and $204.42 billion for operations and maintenance -- up sharply from the 2011 request of $184.49 billion.

With proposed deep cuts in spending for overseas military operations, the Pentagon could free up money for other things. Some of this extra money is reflected in the DOD's proposals for procurement, operations, and maintenance, but fails to make its way into the Pentagon's beleaguered research and development budget, which saw reductions in 2011 after hovering in the $80-billion range for several years.

DOD officials may regret neglecting the research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) budget. After nearly a decade of Pentagon spending for active military operations in South Asia, systems developers are eager for new systems and technologies. Cutting the RDT&E budget may frustrate some of those efforts.

The 2012 Pentagon budget has big good news for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Total proposed UAV spending in 2012 would be 1,395 -- up sharply from the 2011 DOD request for 459 UAVs. Unmanned aircraft purchases in 2012 would include three Global Hawk and Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAVs, 84 Predator UAVs, and 1,308 smaller UAVs.

Now it's time for hearing season in Congress, where lawmakers will pick apart the Pentagon's request, make as much political hay as they can, and hopefully emerge next September with a usable spending plan.

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