Capitol Hill: The Senate’s top defense appropriators have killed the Army and Marines Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and frozen F-35 production levels until the next budget year.
Those were among the most visible of $26 billion in additional cuts to the fiscal 2012 budget the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee made to comply with the Budget Reduction Act. They were among 600 line item reductions the subcommittee made, according to Chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is also chairman of the full committee. “Most of these reductions are made as a result of program terminations, schedule delays, program changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline,” the powerful senator said in his quiet voice.
Top of the list was the increasingly beleaguered Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Inouye said the committee cut it “due to excessive cost growth and constantly changing requirements.” The rebuilding of the Humvee fleet should take care of most of the military’s need for tactical mobility.
A source familiar with the program said the JLTV kill “made sense. With Humvee recap ramping up it is a rather obvious area of redundancy. And, requirements are indeed in major flux,” the source said. And the Marines had made it very clear that they were likely to drop out of the program, as they were worried about its costs and weight.
Cuts to military operation and maintenance funding were possible because of “lax budgeting practices by the Military Departments,” Inouye said. How lax were they? The committee cut $4 billion in Army O and M money in fiscal 2011 and another $2 billion that the Army admitted to the committee “that it cannot spend.”
The committee and the Pentagon worked together closely to identify cuts and DoD handed over $10 billion in suggested cuts. Of that, Inouye said $5 billion of funds are due “to troop reductions in Afghanistan that the President announced after the budget was submitted; $1.6 billion is cut based on an overstated requirement for Afghanistan Security Forces which was identified to the Committee by the lead Commander in Afghanistan for training; $135 million is reduced from the tanker replacement program since the Air Force informed us that they could not spend these funds next year; and over $1.5 billion is rescinded in prior year funds that the Department identified to the Committee in June.”
On top of that, they boosted spending “in critical technology areas such as cyber security, nanotechnology, and space situational awareness.”
For those who hate earmarks, there was good news. The new bill does not include any.