The fiscal 2014 proposed defense budget puts the Obama Administration’s money where its strategy is. The Air Force and the Navy are the clear beneficiaries in the new budget with virtually all their major programs emerging intact. The Navy will get funding for both the Gerald Ford (CVN-78) and the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) aircraft carriers as well as to begin building Virginia-class nuclear submarines at two boats a year. There is a new DDG-51 destroyer, four Littoral Combat Ships and the first Mobile Landing Platform-Forward Staging Base. There are billions of dollars in the budget for additional EA-18G Growlers, P-8 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft and for the carrier-based F-35C and STOVL F-35B fighter. The Air Force’s Big Three programs — F-35, KC-46 tanker and new strategic bomber — all do relatively well in the new budget. There are additional billions for precision weapons, including advanced systems with greater range, anti-jam features and improved guidance.
An Asia-Pacific focused strategy will require the involvement of all the services. The Army has a major role to play in shaping the region’s political-military environment, demonstrating U.S. commitment and providing critical capabilities such as theater missile defense. But access to the region and the ability to project power in defense of friends and allies and against aggressors will depend absolutely on dominance of the air and seas.
The Department of Defense has stressed the world is growing more complex and the location and timing of threats more unpredictable. But what is clear is proliferation of advanced military capabilities including weapons of mass destruction and long-range delivery systems. As a result, almost anywhere the U.S. finds itself deployed it will face increased challenges to its ability to act. The unquestioned advantages the U.S. has enjoyed in the air and sea domains can no longer be taken for granted. The military must modernize to meet the evolving threat.
The proposed fiscal 2014 defense budget assumes that sequestration will not be in effect. As a result it is $52 billion higher than the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act. If the sequestration axe does fall, DoD will be hard pressed to fund all its major procurement programs. In such an event, the administration must do everything in its power to ensure that the critical modernization of the nation’s air and sea forces is preserved.
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