Understanding the FY 2015 Defense Budget

The U.S. Department of Defense must make hard choices to create a fiscally responsible budget for the years ahead.

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The U.S. Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2015 budget request outlines a sound path to responsibly meet the risks and challenges of the current national security environment. The plan also proposes a number of smart, targeted reductions to defense spending that will maintain U.S. military capabilities and the All-Volunteer Force while helping return the country to a peacetime footing. Nonetheless, the Pentagon’s planning process indicates that it is still operating under the assumption that the near-record-high funding levels that characterized the decade after 9/11 will return—and if the U.S. Department of Defense, or DOD, can just weather this short-term budgetary storm, it can avoid adjusting its long-term plans to reflect existing fiscal realities.

The U.S. Department of Defense is requesting $495.6 billion in authority for the base budget in FY 2015 in line with the Budget Control Act, or BCA, caps as revised by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The department, however, envisions future base budgets that exceed the BCA caps from FY 2016 to FY 2019. Overall, the Pentagon is asking for $115 billion more than the BCA caps over the next five years in current dollars.

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