Delayed Pentagon Mobility Study Finally Offers a Preview
Capitol Hill staffers finally received a preview of the Pentagon’s long-awaited Mobility Capabilities Study, a comprehensive review intended to define the mix of aircraft and ships the military needs to transport troops and supplies, provide air-air refueling, etc. The lengthy mobility report will detail several what-if scenarios, as well as the risks the military will incur if the anticipated size and makeup of its air and sea fleet changes over time.
Two potential issues remain, however…
The first is ongoing budget pressure in the wake of Katrina and growing legislative concern about the deficit. The Pentagon based its review on current budget projections through 2011, which are now being reworked to reflect growing pressure among all federal agencies to slash funding.
The second is lateness. Lawmakers hoped to receive the study earlier this year, long before the congressional defense committees marked up their annual authorization and spending bills. As it is, all that has come forward so far is a briefing session that GovExec.com noted was short on details. This has stirred bipartisan annoyance on Capitol Hill, and made it difficult for the study to have much influence on the coming year’s FY 2006 budget as planned. One immediate result has been the bipartisan Talent-Lieberman amendment, designed to keep the C-17’s production lines open.
DID has also offered its readers a related Congressional Budget Office report that gives readers a taste of the considerations involved in mobility capabilities decisions, and details the WALRUS blimp option that could be used as substtute for additional C-17s over the longer term.
The Mobility Capabilities study is slated for full release by the end of 2005. If so, it may begin to exert influence on next year’s FY 2007 Pentagon budget request, which is due out in February 2006 and is generally passed by the legislature around October.