Defense budgets headed down, no matter who’s in the White House

John Keller

Click here to enlarge image

Editor in Chief

It looks like U.S. defense spending is headed downward–no matter who takes the big chair in the Oval Office come January. I, of course, write this before Election Day, so I’ll have a better read in this space next November.

If our new president is to be Barack Obama, he will inherit an over-burdened U.S. military force in a dangerous world of demanding commitments that could not sustain substantial budget cuts. If the new president is John McCain, he will face so many financial pressures on the federal budget as to find few ways to grow–or even sustain–defense spending as it has been for most of this decade.

These are the predictions of the Government Electronics Industry Association (GEIA) segment of the Information Technology Association of America in Arlington, Va., presented in October at the organization’s annual 10-year forecast of U.S. defense spending.

The bottom line, according to the GEIA, is it makes little difference who has won the election; the financial and political imperatives the next president will face leave little room for big changes.

Sure, I’ve read the worrisome predictions of the impact of an Obama presidency on our military forces. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., opened his mouth last November to call for a 25 percent cut in defense spending to help pay for infrastructure, health care, food stamps, and expanded unemployment benefits.

I don’t think such a cut will come to pass–even if voters elect enough Democrats to Congress to set up a so-called “veto-proof majority.” I don’t think any Congress, no matter how anti-military and how far to the left their politics, would approve such a cut in U.S. national security.

I also don’t think any Democrat majority in Congress with a sense of long-term electoral survival would let a guy like Barney Frank anywhere near the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Frank has been “productive” enough in his role mandating home mortgages for those who can’t afford them, but I digress.

Also somewhat worrisome are comments by Obama that he’d like to cut 15 percent of the Pentagon’s budget for education, health care, job training, alternative energy development, world hunger, and deficit reduction…but those comments represent just one day to one particular constituency (the left-wing Caucus for Priorities).

Obama, at different times, also has said he favors a strong military, which more than anything, he says is necessary to sustain peace. If Obama is our new president, we should see soon enough which of those views he really favors.

The GEIA’s view, which I share, is it doesn’t really matter. In fact, fuel prices should have a much broader influence on defense spending over the next several years than who’s resident in the White House. Why?

Think of it this way: all those military jet fighters and transport aircraft slug down a lot of jet fuel. Those surface ships and ground vehicles also consume staggering amounts of fuel. We have to find a way to pay for that fuel somewhere, and if the price is high, the costs will come out of other segments of the defense budget–namely research, development, and procurement.

Sure, in theory we might be able to find other places in the defense budget to find more money for gas, oil, and diesel fuel. The big question is where? Obama, himself, has voiced his support to grow U.S. ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines. If he does that, it would potentially be great for U.S. defense preparedness.

On the other hand, all those extra soldiers and Marines need to be paid, fed, clothed, trained, and equipped. I guess that extra money we need for fuel won’t come out of the personnel accounts. The operations and maintenance sections of the defense budget are pretty well certain to increase because of fuel costs.

What’s left? I’ll tell you: the so-called “investment accounts” of procurement, research, and development.

Overall, GEIA predicts the entire defense budget might have an insignificant increase over the next 10 years. The organization’s latest figures have the DOD budget increasing from $491 billion to $534 billion between 2009 and 2019. Don’t celebrate too soon; that’s less than one-half of one percent. I doubt if we’ll even see that kind of overall defense budget increase.

The scary part of the GEIA’s forecast involves the operations and maintenance account, which the organization predicts will increase from $34.2 billion to $42.9 billion over the next 10 years. That’s where the fuel costs are, as well as food, clothing, and related expenses.

With that kind of increase in an essentially flat defense budget, we know where the reductions will be. GEIA predicts a decrease in the defense research budget over the next decade from $15.9 billion in 2009 to $10.4 billion in 2019. That means less for developing new weapons and technologies.

Furthermore, the GEIA predicts a decrease in the defense procurement budget from $20.6 billion to $19.2 billion. That account is for new ships, aircraft, and combat vehicles, and electronic equipment–as well as for repair and upgrades, which U.S. forces severely need after so many years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cross your fingers and keep an eye on your programs. It looks like the long era of defense budget increases is at an end. When that trend will reverse is anyone’s guess.


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Dual Mode NVIS 4 Inch Pod Light

Blue Wolf’s new DUAL Mode NVIS 4 inch pod lights is fully rotatable thru 320 degrees, can be fixe...

XCalibur5090 | Dual Virtex-7 Based Digital Signal Processing 6U LRM FPGA with Quad 2500 MSPS DAC and 3200 MSPS ADC

The XCalibur5090 is a high-performance, reconfigurable, conduction-cooled 6U LRM module based on ...

NVIS Gooseneck Map Light

NVIS MIL-STD-3009 White Gooseneck Map Light. 0 to 100% brightness control. Tactile feedback and ...

XPedite7574 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7574 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

NVIS White Utility Light

Blue Wolf’s NVIS MIL-STD-3009 Utility Lights is specifically designed for easy handling and spot ...

XCalibur1645 | Freescale Eight-Core P4080 Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur1645 is a high-performance, 6U VPX, single board computer supporting Freescale QorIQ ...

Round Dome Light - NVIS

Blue Wolf’s NVIS MIL-STD-3009 Dome light is designed for cabin illumination or cargo areas. It ha...

Optical Switches

Multiport (N x M) Optical Switches from large core, multimode and Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) for...

NVIS White Post Light Cap Insert

Blue Wolf’s MIL-STD-3009 Post Light cap inserts are specifically designed for illuminating instru...

ScanFaker DRSii - Networked Radar Simulator

High resolution radar stimulator supporting analog and LAN output. Resolution down to 1m is possi...

Related Companies

Blue Wolf

Blue Wolf has been designing Night Vision (NVIS) LED lighting products for Government and Commercial vehicles since 2...

Dspnor AS

Offers radar signal processing and distribution. The products interface to virtually any radar system in use today. T...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

MiltechUK

Mil Spec EMC/NEMP/ filters and EMC product solutions for military applications.

PALMARII Dynamics AB

PALMARII Dynamics is a Swedish company incorporated in 2012 as a competence centre for specialist naval architecture ...

PELORUS NAVAL SYSTEMS Inc

Pelorus Naval Systems is a specialist naval defense engineering and support services company with headquarters in Ran...

Southwest Antennas

Southwest Antennas designs and manufactures high-performance RF & Microwave antennas and accessories designed for tod...

ISVI Corp

ISVI designs, produces and sells machine-vision camera systems combining high-speed and high-resolution sensors with ...

Premier Polymers

Provides seamless epoxy flooring and industrial resinous coatings

CORWIL Technology Corp

CORWIL Technology, the premier US based, IC assembly and test services subcontractor, offering full back-end assembly...

Webcasts

Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Press Releases

CURTISS-WRIGHT AWARDED CONTRACT BY SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...

METADATA SUPPORT ENHANCES INDUSTRY-LEADING HD VIDEO MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FROM CURTISS-WRIGHT

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE