| WASHINGTON, April 10
WASHINGTON, April 10 The Pentagon unveiled a
$526.6 billion budget on Wednesday that calls for base closures,
program cancellations and smaller pay increases, but which is
still $52 billion higher than spending caps set by law, putting
the department on a path toward another year of financial
The Defense Department request for the 2014 fiscal year
beginning on Oct. 1 asks Congress to implement a series of
politically difficult cuts, involving a new round of base
closure proceedings, increased healthcare fees and slower
military pay increases.
While seeking ways to reduce spending in the current tight
fiscal environment, the Pentagon budget would continue to fund
high-priority programs and initiatives, including the strategic
pivot to the Asia-Pacific announced last year.
The budget includes $8.4 billion for continued development
of the three variants of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter, the Pentagon's most expensive procurement program.
It also includes $10.9 billion for new ship construction,
$9.2 billion for missile defenses, $379 million for development
of a new long-range bomber, $4.7 billion for cyberspace
operations and $10.1 billion for space technologies.
"This budget made important investments in the president's
new strategic guidance - including rebalancing to the
Asia-Pacific region and increasing funding for critical
capabilities such as cyber, special operations and global
mobility," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.
The budget is part of President Barack Obama's spending plan
sent to Congress. The president's budget stands little chance of
being enacted into law and is meant to serve largely as a
negotiating tool with Republicans, who have outlined budget
proposals of their own.
Obama's budget seeks new taxes and spending cuts that aim to
replace the automatic, across-the-board reductions known as
sequestration that went into effect on March 1. The Pentagon's
share of the March 1 cuts is about $500 billion over 10 years,
or about $50 billion a year.
The president's budget proposal unveiled on Wednesday would
replace that $500 billion cut under sequestration with a $150
billion reduction, most of it spread over a five-year period
beginning several years from now, a U.S. official told Reuters.
Some $34 billion in cuts would be implemented over the next
five years, the official said, noting that the proposal would
depend on Congress agreeing to eliminate the sequestration
budget cuts. The White House and Republicans have been trying
for two years to reach a deal on sequestration, without success.
The Pentagon budget asks Congress to begin a new round of
Base Realignment and Closure proceedings, a politically
unpopular request that was rejected by lawmakers last year and
has already produced hearings this year, even before the
decision was announced.
Base closures disrupt local economies and cost a huge amount
up front, only saving money over the long run. The Pentagon is
believed to have more than 20 percent surplus of infrastructure
based on estimates from the last round of base closures that
started in 2005.
The 2014 budget also renews a request to Congress for
increased fees for pharmacy co-pays and health-care enrollment
for retired military personnel. The Pentagon also proposed a 1
percent pay increase for military employees, lower than the 1.8
percent increase in the Employment Cost Index ordinarily used to
determine pay increases.
Congress has been resistant in the past to increasing
healthcare fees for military retirees and has often approved pay
increases above those recommended by the department, a factor
analysts say has led to military pay rising at an unsustainable
pace over the past decade.