DOD budget request focuses on personnel, not IT

Some technology programs receive boosts, including network-centric services.

In the fiscal 2009 budget request sent to Congress Feb. 4, the Bush administration pared back Defense Department technology programs in favor of additional spending on personnel.

The administration cut $6 billion from the projected $110 billion in procurement primarily in the Littoral Combat Ship and the Transformational Satellite programs.

“LCS is an example of a program where we weren't able to get as far as we wanted to,” said Vice Adm. Steve Stanley, director of force structure, resources, and assessment for the Joint Staff, during a press briefing at the Pentagon Feb. 4. “We intended to buy six Littoral Combat Ships in the FY 2009 program, and we found it wasn't technically ready for that, so we had to reduce our goal down to just two ships this year.”

DOD is requesting $1.3 billion for the LCS program in fiscal 2009, up from $641.2 million last year.

“Another example is the Transformational Satellite program,” Stanley added. “The technology is still developing. It was prudent to slide that one a little bit and not to request the resources we had intended.”

The administration requested for $843 million for the TSAT program in 2009.

The decrease in projected procurement will be going toward things such as military pay increases and enhancing the numbers of ground forces, Stanley said.

The administration requested $20.5 billion to recruit, train and equip soldiers and Marines in 2009. It also wants another $159.7 billion to help DOD maintain combat readiness and training standards, and support recruitment and retention efforts.

Meanwhile, the Army is requesting $3.5 billion for the Future Combat Systems program in 2009.

“We cannot afford to cut any more out of FCS this year,” said Lt. Gen. David Melcher, the Army’s deputy budget director.

Congress cut the administration’s request for FCS by $229 million in 2008 and by $250 million the year before.

“Congress has RDT&E fatigue,” Melcher said, referring to research, development, testing and evaluation. “But cutting funding just slides the schedule to the right and that helps nobody.”

The Army wants to convince Congress to agree to its full FCS request this year by demonstrating how the program is adding value for warfighters.

“A task force of 1,000 soldiers in Fort Bliss is testing small UAVs, small unmanned ground vehicles and sensors,” said Melcher. “Before long some of the pieces of FCS’s system of systems will be coming together. Technologies developed as part of this program are already being spun out to the Army.”

The 2009 request for the Defense Information Systems Agency is $2.1 billion, including $36.8 million for Net Centric Enterprise Services, up from $10.8 million this year, and $90.3 million for the Defense Information System Network, up from $57.3 million in 2008.

Other highlights of the 2009 budget request include:

• Funding the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at $3.3 billion.

• Providing $!57 million for the Defense Business Transformation Agency, up from $143.5 million this year.

• Spending $853 million on the Joint Tactical Radio System, slightly down from $854.7 million in 2008.

• Providing $84.9 million for Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System radios, down from $148.6 million in 2008.

• $702 million for the Warfighter Information Network — Tactical, up from $320.1 million this year.

Giving the National Security Agency $300 million more to improve the security of U.S. networks and to protect defense information.

Peter Buxbaum is a freelance writer in Bethesda, Md.