Army Budget Billions Short

The Army Chief of Staff has withheld his budget plan in protest over a budget that’s 41 percent short of operational requirements.

The Army’s top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.

The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials. “This is unusual, but hell, we’re in unusual times,” said a senior Pentagon official involved in the budget discussions.

Schoomaker failed to submit the budget plan by an Aug. 15 deadline. The protest followed a series of cuts in the service’s funding requests by both the White House and Congress over the last four months.

According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army’s budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker’s request a 41% increase over current levels. “It’s incredibly huge,” said the Army official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when commenting on internal deliberations. “These are just incredible numbers.”

Most funding for the fighting in Iraq has come from annual emergency spending bills, with the regular defense budget going to normal personnel, procurement and operational expenses, such as salaries and new weapons systems. About $400 billion has been appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through emergency funding measures since Sept. 11, 2001, with the money divided among military branches and government agencies.

But in recent budget negotiations, Army officials argued that the service’s expanding global role in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism — outlined in strategic plans issued this year — as well as fast-growing personnel and equipment costs tied to the Iraq war, have put intense pressure on its normal budget. “It’s kind of like the old rancher saying: ‘I’m going to size the herd to the amount of hay that I have,’ ” said Lt. Gen. Jerry L. Sinn, the Army’s top budget official. “[Schoomaker] can’t size the herd to the size of the amount of hay that he has because he’s got to maintain the herd to meet the current operating environment.”

While I’ve got considerable expertise in defense policy issues, calculating budget requirements is beyond my knowledge. Still, the fact that we’re continuing to find this war, now halfway into its third year, with “emergency” spending is simply irresponsible. And it’s obvious to even the casual observer that the Army is bearing the brunt of the mission.

UPDATE: More bad news for the Army from the AP:

In a new sign of mounting strain from the war in Iraq, the Army has extended the combat tours of about 4,000 soldiers who would otherwise be returning home, defense officials said Monday. The 1st Brigade of 1st Armored Division, which is operating in the vicinity of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, will be kept in place for several weeks beyond its scheduled departure, the officials said. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been formally announced by the Pentagon.

Unfortunate timing, to say the least.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    The only thing surprising about this is that Schoomaker’s got the nads to say it out loud – good for him. You’re right tho, James, this has been funded on the sly since day one, so that when this truly hits the fan, Congress can pretend they didn’t realize/have control over the vast wastage of funds. And so they can blasy anyone who raises a question of being “anti-troop” or “pro-terrorism”. Folk on the left have been saying for some time now that this was just a thinly-veneered tool to scare people into keeping the GOP in power.

  2. Triumph says:

    Still, the fact that we’re continuing to find this war, now halfway into its third year, with “emergency” spending is simply irresponsible.

    What is irresponsible is the war itself. Immediate withdrawl is the only way to both insure US security and to avoid bankrupting the country.

    Bush and Rumsfeld have shown that they have no capacity to plan for war with a realistic assessment of costs. Rumsfeld’s lackey, Paul Wolfowitz-the only Administration official to testify before Congress on the possible costs of the war–indicated that “the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion” for the entire operation.

    The fact that the administration was so far off the mark either speaks to their dishonesty or their utter incompetence.

  3. Atop says:

    Afghaistan is turning into Iraq, but the Governor General is starting a new blog “Citizen Voices”

    Rumor is she was CSIS at CBC working the French-French Canadian issues that keep alot of them employed.

  4. madmatt says:

    Why would the administration want to honestly budget for the war…can you imagine what that would do to the defecit figures…another 500 billin dollars sure doesn’t scream fiscal sanity to me.

  5. DC Loser says:

    It is interesting that Schoonmaker, Rummy’s hand picked successor to Gen Shinseki, was supposed to be his poster child for Defense Transformation at HQDA, because of his special ops background. He’s had to defend OSD’s miserly budgeting for military operations the last three years, but the Army must be really breaking down with all the pressures on equipment O&M to force Schoonmaker to make this very drastic move.

  6. Anderson says:

    What a boring thread. Where’s one of the usual suspects to tell us that the liberal media got Schoomaker’s words wrong? That only liberal queers count the cost of liberty? Come ON, guys!

  7. SFC SKI says:

    As I prepare for a few more months in Iraq due to our extension, my heart is calmed by the fact that Congress will be working diligently to dump the pork out of the defense budget so it will pass, and that budget will reflect the costs of fighting this war, as well as the cost that keep the services for spouses and children open at our home base. I am glad to see they’ll also be using foresight and funding the Veteran’s Administration program’s to help wounded veterans.

    What do you mean they’ve passed these things off for a lame duck session because they are too busy with partisan bickering and getting reelected?

    We get the politicians we deserve, just register and vote for whoever it is that might accomplish more than posing and promises. Thanks.

  8. Doesn’t the Army still frown upon insubordination, especially by senior officers?

  9. Wayne says:

    It is Congresses policy to fund the war through “emergency spending process”. The first year the Bush administration tried to put an estimate of what they thought they would need in the annual budget but Congress said no way.

  10. LJD says:

    Still short on the reading comprehension, Anderson.

    But in recent budget negotiations, Army officials argued that the service’s EXPANDING GLOBAL ROLE in the U.S.-declared WAR ON TERRORISM — outlined in strategic plans issued this year — as well as fast-growing personnel and equipment costs tied to the Iraq war, have put intense pressure on its normal budget.

    That only liberal queers count the cost of liberty?

    I would say you have to first determine if the current action contributes to liberty, but if the shoe fits…

  11. Very interesting to see the Army CoS interpose himself between Sec. Rumsfeld and Congress.

    I’ve linked to you here.

  12. Richard Gardner says:

    Charles Austin – What the CoS did isn’t insubordination. Under Goldwater-Nichols, he is responsible to organize, train, and equip his forces (The Army) to meet the requirements of the Combatent Commanders, who fight the wars (the Services do NOT fight the wars, though the USAF likes to pretend they do at times, see SAC).

    Shinsiki ran into a similar problem. How do you submit a budget to Congress that is obviously bad. Realize the heads of the military branches are in the political game too. Gen. Schoomaker would be ripped apart in Congressional testimony. There is a balance between Civilian control of the military, and blindly obeying orders.

  13. legion says:

    Quite so, Richard. Like any officer, Schoomaker has a responsibility to competently advise his superiors. He can argue all he wants, but when the boss makes a decision, he’s supposed to salute and follow orders.

    BUT, if he feels strongly enough that those orders are wrong (illegal, incompetent, etc.), he can (and has a moral, and sometimes legal, resonsibility to) put his own backside on the line and go “up the chain” to a higher authority. That sounds like what Schoomaker’s doing now – so long as he does it professionally, good on him.

  14. DC Loser says:

    the Services do NOT fight the wars, though the USAF likes to pretend they do at times, see SAC

    Ah….but SAC was a “Specified Command,” which was a USAF component command AND a Combatant Command. When the Cold War ended, SAC and the Specified Commands went away and now all the combatant commands are “joint” Unified Commands.

    DC Loser – ex-SAC Trained Killer

  15. Ray says:

    The military is being underfunded? Nothing new there. I was in the Army the mid 80’s and people were complaining then about the military being underfunded. From my personal experience, when the military says that it is underfunded, it is usually correct to some extent and that is due to that fact that civilians are the ones that set military funding according to their personal considerations and not the consideration of the military’s needs and requirements.

    We also need to realise that if the government funded the military as according to the stated need of the military, our defence budget would be at least triple of what is provided. When is the last time any group or organizations has claimed that they have received adequate funding from any government, let alone the military?

    It’s true that the military is underfunded, but that’s a function of Congress, not the Administration. Remember that this is America and in America the President purposes, Congress disposes. Congress sets the budget in America, not the President. This is stated in the Constitution, is it not?

    The Constitution also states that Congress must authorise the use of military force in places like Iraq, which is exactly what happened, and I’m tired of hearing that this is Bush’s war. It’s not just Bush’s war, it’s Congress’s war too!

  16. Ray says:

    In a new sign of mounting strain from the war in Iraq, the Army has extended the combat tours of about 4,000 soldiers who would otherwise be returning home, defense officials said Monday. The 1st Brigade of 1st Armored Division, which is operating in the vicinity of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, will be kept in place for several weeks beyond its scheduled departure, the officials said.

    Several weeks! OMG The Horror, The Horror!

    I am beginning to see a pattern here. Current deployment in foreign countries is one year, whether that deployment is in active combat areas or not (my nephew was stationed in Kosovo for one year in 2001 and he was NOT in an active combat area). During the cold war I was stationed in Germany for 18 months. My dad told me that he was in Hawaii for 4 years during WWII, and he was stationed in a chemical weapons battalion (not a combat unit)! What will happen in the next 20 years, will overseas deployment be reduced to 6 months or less?

    What ever happened to “for the duration of the war”? Does it make sense to constantly replace experienced troops with those that need 6 months of training before deployment? Dose it make sense to remove troops that, with their experience, have the best chance of survival in combat areas and replace them with troops that, due to their lack of experience, have a lesser chance of survival? Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

  17. James Joyner says:

    Ray:

    Assignment to Germany during peacetime isn’t exactly comparable to deployment to a war zone. Hell, they send family members along with you. (I know; I went twice with dad and once when I served.)

    Since WWII, we have not gone the “for the duration” route.