The Army's Need for Money
Defense Industry Daily describes the US Army's need for money.
With maintenance costs becoming more visible due to fleet age and extra wear as the result of the ongoing war, US land forces are facing a large maintenance overhang - and wondering where to find the budget for it, given existing programs and other needs (including finding survivable and durable alternatives to the Hummers when that contract expires soon).
The overhang, like the weapons systems it gets, is often the legacy of decisions made decades before.
Meanwhile, the 1990s procurement holiday has left critical services like the Air Force with an aging equipment base of its own on several fronts, from aerial tankers, to bombers, to fighters, to medium and light transports.
The way military budgets work is that the DOD gets a total dollar figure from on high, and then the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines fight among themselves to define the pie. The game-theoretic term for this is a "zero-sum" game, which means anyone's gain is someone else's loss.
The Pentagon budget is usually a zero-sum game in which the maximum figure for the next year's budget is handed down from the White House in the spring, and the services jockey for extra dollars within those constraints to get allocations from the Secretary of Defense, while congress plays its own third-party role afterward on the way to passing a final military budget. In a very rare move, however, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has received permission from Donald Rumsfeld to make the Army's 2008 budget case directly to the US Office of Management and Budget (who coordinates budgets across the entire federal government). This allows them to fight for items they need, without necessarily jeapordizing other service budgets.
Therefore the only way the ground forces are going to get money at a time the Air Force and the other services want to modernize is to enlarge the entire pie. That is, increase the total military budget. This UPI article suggests this exactly what the DOD hopes will happen.
Harvey said the Army made its case to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has agreed to allow the service to seek more money from the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for coordinating budgets across the federal government.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey refused to say exactly how much extra the Army is seeking, but the Los Angeles Times has reported it wants $138 billion, approximately $26 billion more than it got for fiscal year 2007.
"We felt we had a challenge we couldn't overcome in '08-'13 program," Schoomaker said.
Both Harvey and Schoomaker insist that the amount is affordable, given the strength of the U.S. economy.
It's a refrain they picked up from Rumsfeld, who has been laying the groundwork for a much larger defense budget for the last year. The rationale is that as a percentage of gross domestic product -- less than 4 percent -- the United States spends less now than it has historically, and can afford much more.
Most people would assume the extra money is going to increase the size of the US ground forces, which are always described as "overstretched" by Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of it is going into systems modernization, one large program being the Future Combat System (FCS). The LA Times reports:
However, a good portion of the new money the Army seeks is not directly tied to the war, Kosiak cautioned, but rather to new weapons it wants — particularly the $200-billion Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that is eventually to replace nearly every tank and transporter the Army has. "This isn't a problem one can totally pass off on current military operations," Kosiak said. "The FCS program is very ambitious — some would say overly ambitious."
FCW has more details of the Army's argument for the Future Combat System.
FCS is the Army’s long-term modernization plan to transform the service into lighter, more mobile combat brigades that combine air, land and unmanned assets working together in a network-centric environment.
But the program has come under increased scrutiny because of its enormous price and the uncertainty of FCS capabilities based on pending technologies, such as the Joint Tactical Radio System.
Schoomaker also disputed media reports that system costs will total $300 billion. He placed the program cost at about $120 billion, with $31 billion of that to be spent between fiscal 2008 and 2013.
FCS will save the Army money in the long run, said Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, because FCS combat brigades require fewer soldiers and equipment would need to be replaced regardless of the program.