Blog: military spending takes hits in 2014, but cuts aren't as bad as they could have been

THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 14 Jan. 2014. The congressional appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 is out, and ... well, there's good news and there's bad news for the military.

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THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 14 Jan. 2014. The congressional appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 is out, and ... well, there's good news and there's bad news for the military.

The FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill -- the legislation that actually releases money -- keeps defense spending at $486.9 billion, which is about the same as current operating levels, congressional officials say. The bill, furthermore, makes official the denial of the extreme defense budget cuts that would have occurred under the next round of sequestration.

This is good news. At last Congress is cutting checks for the military, and the Pentagon can operate through the end of the federal fiscal year, which ends on 30 Sept. 2014, with a solid spending plan, not some congressional continuing resolution.

Related: Capital Hill budget deal could restore tens of billions of dollars to the Pentagon

This introduces a level of certainty that will enable the military services to operate according to a plan, and enables the defense industry to start planning according to solid spending guidance.

It's not all good news, however, when one takes a closer look. Compared to current enacted levels, the bill reduces military procurement by $7.5 billion, cuts operation and maintenance by $13.6 billion, and cuts military research and development by $6.9 billion.

Related: Engineering support contracts indicate the Pentagon is sinking into the Mothball Strategy

The bill also decreases military construction by $817 million over current levels, allocates $447 million for U.S. Cyber Command, and increases military pay by 1 percent.

Okay, so we're taking some hits, but this was expected. The cuts, in addition, are not as deep as they could have been. Had sequestration been allowed to continue, the 2014 defense budget would have been about $31.5 million less. For this we can count our blessings.

One potentially ominous note that may bode ill for military trade shows is wording in the bill that includes bans and limitations on federal agency conferences, travel, and awards. Although the details of these bans are not immediately apparent, it could continue a chill that has reduced military participation and attendance at trade shows over the past year.

Related: Defense industry left guessing as U.S. Army struggles forward with an unclear mission

Now the fun continues. Next month we can expect the Pentagon's budget request for federal fiscal year 2015, which begins on 1 Oct. 2014. This will help the defense industry with further planning, as it will provide the first rough plan for defense spending beyond this year.

More information on the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill is online at appropriations.house.gov.

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