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“Modest reforms to pay and compensation will improve readiness and modernization. It will help keep our all-volunteer force sustainable and strong. Keeping faith also means investing sufficient resources so that we can uphold our sacred obligations to defend the nation and to send our sons and daughters to war with only the best training, leadership and equipment. We can’t shrink from our obligations to one another. The stakes are too high.”

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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Burning a Hole in Your Pocket

As we get through the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee mark-ups, we’ve been treated to a laundry list of stuff the House has added back into the defense budget: three of the four cruisers the Navy was going to retire, Global Hawk Block 30s, 12 more Reaper drones, and added funds for ground vehicles, not to mention presumably some variation on the deal over Air Guard aircraft and people. 

But the House can do this because it is playing with more money than anybody else.  We covered the Senate’s 302(b) appropriation allocations a week ago, but hadn’t yet noted the House’s 302(b) allocations.  The House appropriators increased the defense subcommittee’s allocation by $5B over the President’s request.  The House Budget Committee only provided $3.7B over the President’s request for National Defense (050), but the difference could be made up by what the appropriators cut from the Department of Energy’s 050 funding and what they could cut from MILCON, as the Senate did. 

That extra money means HASC’s add-backs aren’t that interesting.  So far, it looks a lot like the stuff that was highlighted as cut, rather than those things the legislators really do value differently than the Pentagon (with the exception of the Guard aircraft).  More notably, we’re still only talking about whether to keep the defense budget flat or to cut it.  In today’s budget environment, nobody has proposed a real increase over last year.