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Fact Sheet on Proposed Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Budget

Download this fact sheet (pdf)

See also: Getting the Defense Budget Under Control by Lawrence J. Korb

“There is broad agreement on the need for acquisition and contracting reform in the Department of Defense. There have been enough studies. Enough hand-wringing. Enough rhetoric. Now it’s the time for action.”
    —Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, April 6, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presented a much-needed reprioritization of DOD resources in his announcement of the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2010 budget request. His proposal has been harshly criticized as a defense cut that will make the armed forces smaller and weaker.

But this isn’t the case. While Gates’ budget proposal could have gone further to orient U.S. forces toward the kind of unconventional conflicts we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the outline he presented is a good first step in this direction. The proposed budget will increase defense spending over last year’s total, improve needed capabilities, provide for a net increase in American jobs, and offer long overdue help for servicemembers and their families.

The below sections explore common criticisms of the budget and present the facts needed to push back against these distortions.

A defense spending increase—not a cut

The defense budget proposed by Secretary Gates does not represent a defense cut. In fact, the budget proposal represents a defense spending increase, making it the 11th straight year the core defense budget has risen in real terms.

This represents an approximately $21 billion increase.

Improving needed capabilities

This proposal will increase funding for urgently needed U.S. defense capabilities. Secretary Gates’ recommendations enhance the capabilities most needed by our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates’ proposal will actually increase spending for urgently needed manpower needs and some weapons platforms while canceling defense spending for programs that are over cost, behind schedule, useless for counterinsurgency operations, and unneeded for the foreseeable future.


Grow the Force Initiative: Increasing the size of the Army, Marine Corps, and special operations forces will relieve stress on these forces.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: UAVs are in high demand in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Littoral Combat Ship: LCS is a key capability for presence, stability, and counterinsurgency operations in coastal regions.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: The F-35 is less costly than the F-22 and gives the United States the capability to maintain air superiority for the foreseeable future.

Missile defense: Funding for proven theatre missile defense technologies will increase while funding for systems with technical problems will be cancelled.


F-22 Raptor: This incredibly costly fighter is a plane without an enemy and has never been used in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Air Force will still get 187 of these planes, four more than the number that the Bush administration approved in 2005.

Future Combat Systems Vehicles: FCS vehicles would have no practical use in either Iraq or Afghanistan. And their design would make them highly vulnerable to attacks commonly used by insurgents in both theatres.

Presidential helicopter: Also known as the “presidential limousine,” the cost of this program has nearly doubled and is currently six years behind schedule. With the increased cost, each new helicopter would have cost more than Air Force One.


This proposal will not significantly affect U.S. jobs in aerospace or shipbuilding. In fact, these proposals will provide a net increase in direct employment in the aerospace industry.

  • Currently, 24,000 workers are directly employed in producing the F-22 for Lockheed Martin. This number will be reduced to 11,000 by the end of 2011 when the economy is expected to be on more stable ground. However, these losses will be dramatically offset by jobs created by the increase in F-35 production.
  • The F-35 program, also administered by Lockheed Martin, currently employs 38,000 people. According to Secretary Gates, more than doubling F-35 production in FY2010 will mean adding 44,000 American jobs next year, to bring the total F-35 workforce in that year to 82,000.
  • While ending production of the F-22 will mean that some workers will have to change jobs, increased production of the F-35 should give current F-22 employees an opportunity to transition from one program to another. In some cases, workers on these planes already operate closely together.
  • Following the cancellation of the DDG-1000 destroyer, that project’s workforce can transition to work on the restarted DDG-51 production line, as well as work on the Littoral Combat Ships which Gates plans to buy in large quantities. The Pentagon has agreed on a plan to distribute work on the DDG-51 between the contractors currently assigned to the DDG-1000.

Prioritizing people

This proposal will help servicemembers and their families.

  • The budget proposal will fully protect and properly fund the growth in military end strength.
    • Growing the size of the Army and Marine Corps will give service members needed respite between deployments to rest and retrain while giving them and their families more predictability in the deployment cycle.
  •  The proposal will also provide a substantial increase in funding to better care for servicemembers upon their return home.
    • The Pentagon will increase overall spending on programs related to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury by $300 million. It will also increase overall spending for research and development programs for battlefield injuries by $400 million over last year
  • Funding will be increased by $200 million for improvements in child care, spousal support, lodging, and education for military families.

Download this fact sheet (pdf)

See also: Getting the Defense Budget Under Control by Lawrence J. Korb