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To Increase Or Decrease Defense Spending

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The results of a two day informal myMotherlode poll asking “Should the U.S. increase or decrease defense spending?” was a majority, 67 percent, in favor of an increase.

President Obama signed the $607 billion defense authorization bill for 2016 on November 25th 2015. The Department of defense estimates their fiscal year 2015 budget totals are: Army 197.4 billion, Navy 187.3 billion, Air Force 164.3 billion, Department wide (shared costs) 195.4 billion, for a total budget of 744.5 billion.

The defense department reports it is the nation’s largest employer; headed by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, it employs a civilian force of over 1.3 million men and women on active duty, 742,000 civilian personnel, and 826,000 in the National Guard and Reserve forces. In addition more than 2 million military retirees and their family members receive benefits.

The defense department strategy in the 2016 budget proposal outlines three defense priorities: protect the homeland; build security globally; and also project power and win decisively which is further defined as: to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist networks and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The number of personnel employed by the Department of Defense has declined since the 1960s, while personnel costs have risen rapidly, in part due to rising U.S. health-care costs. The 2016 budget request from the defense department comptroller says “Personnel costs, including military pay and allowances, military health care, civilian pay, and family support, encompass nearly half of the Department’s budget.” And concludes, “The Department provides a strong package of pay and benefits that is balanced with readiness, capacity, and the capabilities needed to execute the national defense strategy.”

The budget request also states, “The Department is wasting scarce defense resources on maintaining facilities that far exceed DoD’s needs. The Congress must provide the Department with the authority to pursue another Base Realignment and Closure round beginning in fiscal year 2017. As the Department draws down to a smaller, more capable, agile force, it must eliminate all areas of waste to include maintaining unneeded facilities.”

The full report is here.

In May myMotherlode published “GOP: Obama Plays Politics With Military Defense” here. A follow up, also related to budget talks earlier this year, was published in June titled “GOP: Senate Democrats Won’t Fund Our Military” here.