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US Army Takes Its FY 2008 Budget Appeal Directly to OMB

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With maintenance costs becoming more visible due to fleet age and extra wear as the result of the ongoing war, US land forces are facing a large maintenance overhang – and wondering where to find the budget for it, given existing programs and other needs (including finding survivable and durable alternatives to the Hummers when that contract expires soon). Meanwhile, the 1990s procurement holiday has left critical services like the Air Force with an aging equipment base of its own on several fronts, from aerial tankers, to bombers, to fighters, to medium and light transports. When combined with the Defense Procurement Spiral of weapons systems whose costs rise in real inflation-adjusted terms each generation (and hence get fewer bought each time), the US military faces a significant budgetary challenge in the years ahead. This will be coupled with demographic pressures of an aging population curve that may be less severe than Europe’s, Japan’s, or China’s, but will nonetheless affect policy and budgets. The Pentagon budget is usually a zero-sum game in which the maximum figure for the next year’s budget is handed down from the White House in the spring, and the services jockey for extra dollars within those constraints […]

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