The White House approved U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gate’s 2012 budget proposal, which allows for modest growth despite being $12 million less than the Pentagon planned.
The new Defense budget amounts to $554 billion for defense, not including war spending, with a $12 billion reduction that includes efficiency savings, reduced inflation assumptions and savings from civilian pay freezes mandated last month by Congress.
Gates also made a sweeping proposal to cut the overall defense budget by $267 billion over five years. If implemented, the cuts would be a 2.67 percent reduction to the $2.99 trillion defense plan, not including spending, according to the Office of Management and Budget’s figures. The cuts are expected to reduce the number of acting service members in the Army and Marines by up to 47,000 people and eliminate defense systems such as the Surface-Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
While Gates has committed to reducing defense spending due to pressures to help ease the U.S. deficit, he has sought to prevent deep cuts in weapons and research by looking to reduce overhead and inefficiencies by an estimated $102 billion through 2016.
“After a decade of growth, however, (the defense budget) now seems to be leveling off, and it may begin to decline if defense is included in measures to rein in federal budget deficits,” said Stephen Daggett, defense budget analyst at the Congressional Research Service.
However, the unfinished fiscal 2011 appropriations legislation currently totals about $525.2 billion, which is $24 billion less than what the Pentagon requested. Congress could add some of the extra money back into the defense budget, Daggett said.