The FY2016 DoD base budget request totals $534.3 billion for discretionary budget authority, $38.2 billion higher than the amount enacted in FY2015 ($496.1 billion).
The budget request also includes $50.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), about $13.3 lower than the FY2015 enacted amount.
While the FY2016 budget request is essentially the same as that included in the FY2015 budget plan, DoD’s five-year budget plan for FY2016 to FY2020 is $15.5 billion higher than planned last year.
DoD’s press statement stressed that the budget “supports the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) strategy, beginning with its three pillars: protect the homeland, build security globally, and project power and win decisively.”
Introducing the FY2016 DoD budget at the Pentagon yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work described the budget as strategy driven and resource informed. Noting that the request is $36 billion above the sequestration caps, Work pressed for congressional action to block the return to sequestration. He warned that a return to full sequestration will guarantee a “resource-driven, strategy-deprived budget.”
The Army’s FY2016 base budget request totals $126.5 billion (23.7% of the total DoD base budget) up $7.0 billion from the FY2015 enacted level. The Navy’s budget (including the Marine Corps) totals $161.0 billion (30.1%) $11.8 billion above FY2015. The Air Force base budget request is $152.9 billion (28.6%), up $16.0 billion. The budget request for Defense-wide accounts is $94.0 billion (17.6%), $3.4 billion higher than the previous year.
DoD’s budget overview states that the FY2016 DoD budget reflects six key themes: balance the force; manage enduring readiness challenges; continue focusing on institutional reform; pursue investments in military capabilities; provide for DoD’s people; and support Overseas Contingency Operations.
The QDR calls for rebalancing within the Army. The Army will lower its active end strength level to from 490,000 in 2015 to 450,000 by 2018. Army National Guard strength will drop from 350,200 in 2015 to 335,000 in 2017. DoD warns that if sequestration returns to full force the active Army will have to go down to 420,000.
The FY2016 budget provides significant funding for modernization programs. The budget funds procurement of 57 Joint Strike Fighters and 9 ships. Development funding is included for the KC-46 tanker and the Long Range Strike bomber. The Navy funds the overhaul of the George Washington and development of the Ohio replacement strategic submarine. And, the Army includes $4.5 billion for helicopter modernization.
The FY2016 budget would raise military pay by 1.3 percent. The budget also funds a 1.3 percent pay raise for civilians. The FY2015 pay raise was 1.0 percent. The 1.3 percent pay raise is a full percentage point below that which is called for in current law. Planned pay raises will also be limited in the FY2016-20 budget plan. The planned pay raises are 1.3 percent in 2017, 1.5 percent in 2018 and 2019, and 1.8 percent on 2020.
The budget also includes a number of proposals to slow growth in military compensation and benefits. The budget slows the growth in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) costs by 4 percent until the BAH rates equal 95 percent of housing and utilities costs.
Reduced commissary subsidies will come from operating efficiencies rather than a direct cut to the commissary subsidy, as proposed last year. Commissary operating days and hours will be reduced and the budget requests approval to include second destination transportation costs in the cost of goods.
The budget proposes to streamline the TRICARE options (Prime, Standard, and Extra) into a more simplified structure that includes in-network and out-of-network cost sharing. Active duty personnel will continue to be exempt from co-pays and fees. Modest enrollment fees would be implemented for new TRICARE-for Life Medicare-eligible retirees and pharmacy co-pays would be increased under the budget proposal.
The FY2016 DOD budget again requests congressional authority to conduct a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round to reduce excess infrastructure. Congress has repeatedly denied such requests in recent years.
The budget also renews other proposals that were rejected by the congress last year. The Air Force requests divestiture of the A-10 aircraft program to reallocate funds from supporting excess force structure to readiness needs. The Army requests, in its Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) to divest the oldest, least capable aircraft and retain more capable aircraft.
Additional detail (including Military Service briefings) on the FY2015 DoD budget request is available on the DoD Comptroller website.