President Obama’s 2012 budget is out, but the Pentagon is facing larger concerns: the 2011 budget.
Four months into the fiscal year, Congress has yet to pass the 2011 budget, instead, operating the government under a continuing resolution at 2010 levels. That could leave the Pentagon strapped for equipment and programs, according to defense officials.
Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned of an impending crisis in defense if the budget wasn’t passed — and he offered to cut $9 billion if Congress would agree to pass it. It would leave the Defense budget at $540 billion.
The continuing resolution under which the Defense Department is operating does not allow it to purchase new equipment or make other purchases. It keeps spending levels at the same amount as 2010 as well. About 50 military projects are on hold, and defense contractors are increasingly nervous about Congressional foot-dragging about the budget.
“I raise this point today because I am concerned that the debate over the defense budget in recent days and weeks is becoming increasingly distant from strategic and operational reality — distant, in other words, from the real world,” Gates said in Defense News. “ In fact, suggestions to cut defense by this or that large number have largely become exercises in simple math, divorced from serious considerations of capabilities, risks and the level of resources needed to protect this country’s security and vital interests around the world.”