Defense Budget – Reflection of our Mission

By Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale

Robert F. Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer

Robert F. Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer (Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense)

Earlier today, we released President Obama’s budget request for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins October 1.

The request asked Congress to approve a base budget of $549 billion, plus $159 billion to support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The grand total of our request is $708 billion. We requested another $33 billion as a supplemental to the FY 2010 budget to support 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan, which the president decided was needed back in December.

Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that that is a huge amount of money. I have spent my entire professional life working with Defense budgets and in DoD financial management, and I am still in awe whenever I think about the scale of our organization.

But the fact is, the Defense budget – like the Department itself — is a reflection of our mission. We can’t separate them.

Our budget sustains one of the largest, most complex, and remarkable organizations in the world. It provides pay and health benefits for an all-volunteer force of 3 million men and women, including more than 2 million in uniform. They are our greatest strategic asset, and caring for them is our highest priority, especially those who are injured in service to our country.

Besides providing for the defense of the U.S. homeland, the people of DoD are engaged in fighting our enemies – in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere – as well as battling drug organizations and providing emergency relief when natural disasters strike, as in Haiti. No military in the world can match our capabilities or the skill and dedication of our people.

The budget also pays to equip and supply our troops for their missions. That includes aircraft, ships, land vehicles, communications systems, fuel, medical supplies and much, much more.

Of course, taxpayers have every right to expect that the resources they provide to Defense are effectively managed. As comptroller of the department, I take this responsibility personally. And I am very pleased to report that the FY 11 budget builds on the reforms of the present fiscal year. In short, it furthers the secretary’s goal to rebalance America’s forces so that we will have what we need for the current conflicts as well as the capabilities we may need in the future.

The budget also advances the department’s commitment to reform how we do business, especially in acquisitions. As a result, a number of programs have been cancelled. Some cost too much. Some were underperforming. Others were canceled because they are no longer needed.

I welcome the opportunity to talk with interested bloggers about these and the other decisions that went into the FY 2011 budget request. I also look forward to answering any questions they may have about the budget request itself.

Information on the QDR and a copy of the 128 page report, which was released today, are available by clicking the following link.

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