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

XPedite7572 | 5th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module with SecureCOTS™

The XPedite7572 is a secure and high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XCalibur4501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4501 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XCalibur4500 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4500 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XPedite7501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled XMC Module

The XPedite7501 is a high-performance, low-power, XMC module based on the 5th generation Intel® C...

XPedite7570 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7570 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XPedite7530 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U CompactPCI Module

The XPedite7530 is a high-performance 3U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugge...

XCalibur4540 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur4540 is a high-performance, 6U OpenVPX™, multiprocessing, single board computer that ...

XPedite7470 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI SBC

The XPedite7470 is a high-performance, low-power, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XPedite7472 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI SBC with SecureCOTS™

The XPedite7472 is a secure and high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XChange3100 | 6U VPX 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3100 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 6U OpenVPX™ 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch module. Th...

Related Companies

Advanced Conversion Technology Inc

ACT designs and manufactures, since 1981, an extensive range of AC-DC and DC-DC power supplies (switching, linear, ra...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Reynard Corp

Manufactures custom precision optical components and thin-film coatings 0.2–50 µm (UV to far-IR) to demanding specifi...

Active Silicon Inc

Designs and manufactures frame grabbers and embedded vision systems in PCI express, PCI/104-express, PMC, cPCI and C...

Electronic Development Labs Inc (EDL)

Since 1943, EDL has strived to provide quality products, outstanding customer service, and superior technical support...

North Atlantic Industries Inc

The top 10 defense companies worldwide rely  on NAI Solutions NAI is a leading independent provider of specializ...

Streamline Circuits Corp

Streamline Circuits is a leading provider of high quality printed circuit boards. Streamline Circuits is committed to...

TXO Systems Ltd

TXO Systems is the world’s leading telecoms network asset management specialist. Founded in 2005 and operating on fiv...

ProMation Engineering Inc

Manufactures a wide array of reliable industrial dual acting electric actuators including quarter-turn, failsafe quar...

PTC

PTC (Nasdaq: PTC) delivers technology solutions that transform the way companies create, operate and service their pr...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

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:

Latest from the Paris Air Show

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6
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