Defense officials primarily focused their attention on the department’s weapons programs as they looked for ways to cut $15 billion from the draft fiscal 2017 budget released at the beginning of the year, Comptroller Mike McCord said earlier this week.
October’s two-year budget deal will provide DOD $23 billion in relief compared to the Budget Control Act spending cap for FY 2017, but its funding still falls short of the Pentagon’s draft plan. The size of the force, compensation and readiness are largely off limits as officials try to make up the shortfall, McCord told the audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“I would not expect a major change in the size of the force,” he said, reported Breaking Defense. DOD’s long-term budget situation remains uncertain, making it difficult to resort to force reductions.
Officials also committed to preserving readiness. The military won’t sacrifice near-term training, maintenance or operations funds for long-term modernization, McCord said.
Overall, McCord said he couldn’t complain about the recent budget agreement. It gives the department 98 percent of what it asked for in FY 2016 — not counting $8 billion in relief for overseas contingency operations (OCO). “For ’17 it’s a little less, about 96 percent without the OCO relief, maybe 97 percent with it,” he said.
The comptroller also was pleased that the budget deal does not extend the statutory spending caps beyond FY 2021. “This was something that was very important to us, probably our top priority when we talked to [OMB] as they headed into the negotiations,” he said, reported DOD News.
“We did not want to see these caps extended even further because … the decade of the ’20s is when we’ll probably need additional resources, even above where we are today, to start recapitalizing the nuclear triad,” McCord added.