Army pursues risky bid for boost in funding

Top Army officers are clamoring for a larger share of the overall Defense budget in a move that could upset the delicate balance in annual spending allocations to the military services. They want to put their heavily deployed branch on par financially with the larger annual Air Force and Navy spending accounts for the first time since the creation of the Air Force almost 60 years ago.

Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker said Wednesday the service needs $138.8 billion in its base fiscal 2008 budget -- $25 billion more than Pentagon leaders outlined for the Army in budget guidance sent to the services and defense agencies earlier this year.

Army accounts typically comprise 24 percent of the Defense budget, with the technology-heavy Air Force and Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, each receiving about 30 percent. The Bush administration's last budget request bumped up the Army's share only slightly, seeking a 25.5 percent share of fiscal 2007 Defense funds for the service. For years, Army leaders have shied away from advocating sharp spending increases, fearing that they would spark a budget war among the services. But the hefty price tag on Army modernization and transformation -- coupled with the costs of base closures and relocating troops from Europe to the United States -- have swelled the Army's budget needs, Schoomaker said during a roundtable interview at the Pentagon.

Army spending needs have been further exacerbated by skyrocketing personnel costs and the so-called procurement holiday of the 1990s, which depleted the force and left its equipment stocks $56 billion short by the time war began in Iraq in 2003.

"We're trying to overcome a Cinderella story since the end of the Cold War," Schoomaker said.

Schoomaker cautioned, however, that he does not want to fund the Army at the expense of the other services. The Army is "not interested in getting into other pieces of the budget," he said, adding that the budget process is not like a "competition at a poker table."

But boosting Army accounts -- while keeping other defense spending at the same levels prescribed in the budget guidance -- would require the White House to increase the Defense Department's fiscal 2008 projected top-line figure. The administration already has projected slower rates of growth in annual defense budgets -- an average of 2 percent to 4 percent -- beginning in 2008 through 2011.

Defense sources told CongressDaily this week that the Army is talking directly with Office of Management and Budget officials instead of negotiating its fiscal 2008 budget request with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But Schoomaker would not comment on any discussions with the White House, stating he remains in a "dialogue" with Rumsfeld's office.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody likewise said at the Association of the United States Army convention Wednesday that Army officials have had "very, very professional meetings" with Rumsfeld's office and have "laid out what we think the Army costs."

Both Schoomaker and Cody cautioned that the Army cannot pay for current operations at the expense of its technology transformation efforts -- namely the $160 billion Future Combat Systems. But Schoomaker acknowledged that budget constraints might force the Army to slow development on some of the dozens of technologies that comprise the expansive FCS program, the most expensive and ambitious technological endeavor in the Army's history.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.