Defense Secretary Panetta: FY 2013 Budget Request Protects Science and Technology Programs

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Publication date: 
27 January 2012

“We're depending a great deal on being at the  technological edge of the future.” – Defense Secretary Panetta

When the Department of Defense releases its full FY  2013 budget request on February 13, it will be based on the Budget Control Act  passed last year that will reduce projected Pentagon spending by $487 billion  over the next ten years.  Under this  plan, during the next five years, the active Army will be reduced from 562,000  to 490,000 soldiers, and the Marine Corps will be reduced from 202,000 to  182,000.  These reductions are indicative  of difficult budget cuts that will affect almost every program, entailing a  total reduction from projected overall Penagon spending during the next ten  years of 7 percent to 9 percent. 

Despite “the significant fiscal constraints that  have been imposed on the department,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced  that the FY 2013 request protects science and technology program funding.  In a briefing yesterday, Panetta said the  following:

“with regards to the key investments in technology  and new capabilities, we have to retain a decisive technological edge.   We have to retain the kind of leverage the  lessons of recent conflicts have given us.   And we need to stay ahead of the most lethal and disruptive threats that  we're going to face in the future.  

“That meant protecting or increasing investments in  cyber capabilities, the ability to project power in denied areas, special  operations forces - the kind that we saw that conducted the bin Laden raid and  the hostage rescue operation - homeland missile defense, and countering weapons  of mass destruction.  In order to protect  vital investments for the future, we protected science and technology programs  as well.”

Panetta later said:

“There's a risk, frankly, in the -- you know, the  technological area.  We're depending a  great deal on being at the technological edge of the future.  And as I've said, I think we even have to  leap forward.  If we're going to deal  with the kind of challenges we're going to face, we've got to be smart enough,  innovative enough, creative enough to be able to leap forward.  Can we do that?  Can we develop the kind of technology we're  going to need to confront the future?   You know, I'm confident we can.   But there are risks associated with that.

“So, it's -- the risks we're going to be facing  obviously come with some of the areas where, you know, we've had to reduce the  budget.  But what we've done is to try to  develop the kind of agility and capability so that we can respond to the  threats that we're going to face in the 21st century.

“And I think -- I think this is the force for the  future.  You know, are there risks going  -- associated with it?  You bet.  Can we deal with those risks and make them  acceptable?  You bet.”

The forthcoming FY 2013 request was shaped by new  strategic guidance that was released by President Barack Obama, Defense  Secretary Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin  Dempsey earlier this month, entitled  “Sustaining  U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century Defense.”  In the section “Toward the Joint Force of 2020” the strategy outlines eight “principles  [that] will guide our force and program development.”  It states:

“Finally, in adjusting our strategy and attendant  force size, the Department will make every       effort to maintain an adequate industrial base and  our investment in science and technology.       We will also encourage innovation in concepts of  operation. Over the past ten years, the       United States and its coalition allies and partners  have learned hard lessons and applied new       operational approaches in the counter terrorism,  counterinsurgency, and security force       assistance arenas, most often operating in  uncontested sea and air environments.       Accordingly, similar work needs to be done to ensure  the United States, its allies, and       partners are capable of operating in A2/AD, cyber,  and other contested operating       environments. To that end, the Department will both  encourage a culture of change and be       prudent with its ‘seed corn,’ balancing reductions  necessitated by resource pressures with       the imperative to sustain key streams of innovation  that may provide significant long-term payoffs.”

A year ago the Obama Administration’s FY 2012 request    for the three defense science and technology programs varied  significantly.  For FY 2012, the request  was up by 14.5 percent for total 6.1 basic research programs as compared to the  FY 2011 appropriation.  The 6.2 and 6.3  requests were down: applied research was down by 6.0 percent, and advanced technology  research by 15.8 percent. 

The final FY 2012 appropriations bill   passed by Congress reflected the budget request.  Congress approved a 16.6 percent increase in  funding for basic research programs, a reduction of 4.7 percent for applied  research programs, and a 14.3 percent reduction for advanced technology  research programs.

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