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Pentagon Spending To Increase $130 Billion? A Year?

28 Nov 2007
Posted by Stan Collender

You're reading the headline correctly. One very senior and presumably highly influential person at the Pentagon -- Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wants annual U.S. defense spending to increase by about 1 percent of GNP, or roughly $130 billion, a year.

At least some of this is internal bargaining within the Pentagon and Bush administration at a criticla point in the presidential budget process. Federal agencies and departments were supposed to get their "passbacks" for fiscal 2009 this week, that is, they were supposed to get the initial official response to their proposed budgets for the coming year. So Mullen's comments shoudl be seen for what they are: a negotiating ploy designed to make if harder for the administration to reduce the Pentagon's request.

In addition, it is typical for the uniformed leadership at the Pentagon to push for more from the civilian leadership and to use pubic pronouncements like these to put pressure on the secretary of Defense to request something closer to what the Joint Chiefs want.

The $130 billion does not include the funds being spent on Iraq and Afghanistan, so the total increase over current levesl would be less, probably close to the $65 billion annual increase the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated would be needed.

But Mullen's comments absolutely reinforce the notion that, even if activities in Iraq and Afghanistan were to end immediately and all U.S. troops were home in their own beds at the start of fiscal 2009, we shouldn't expect any dramatic reduction in the overall level of military spending.

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