sequestration, would have meant
sacrifices in a number of areas,
including electromagnetic maneuver
warfare, or the ability to jam and
detect seekers, radar and satellites.
“We’re slipping behind and our
advantage is shrinking very fast,”
then-Chief of Naval Operations
ADM Jonathan W. Greenert said
during the January hearing.
Perhaps even more alarming,
the Navy’s ability to develop a proficient contingency force to rapidly
respond to worldwide threats
would be hamstrung, he said.
“We’re not there today, and we’ll
just never get there if we go to
sequestration,” Greenert said. “We’ll
remain at about one-third of what
we need to be.”
The agreement spans only the
two years, providing the Defense
Department with temporary relief
from the caps that extend to 2021.
And there remains a $14 billion gap
between the Pentagon’s plans for
2017 and the funding prescribed in
But the agreement is certainly better than nothing. And it comes on
the heels of other similar agreements
— most notably the Bipartisan
Budget Act of 2013, which increased
defense spending for fiscal years
2014 and 2015 — thus giving the
military some confidence that it will
be spared in the out years.
Outside of the Defense Department, it is unclear how — or even if
— the Coast Guard will benefit
much from the agreement.
Funded in the Department of
Homeland Security accounts, the
Coast Guard will receive only a small
portion of the non-defense discretionary spending increase contained
in the deal, making the budgetary
impact much more diluted than
within the Pentagon itself.
As a result, the Coast Guard almost certainly will continue to grapple with its own budget crunch and
its need for more procurement dollars to upgrade aging platforms.
But all federal agencies will benefit from one significant side effect
of the deal: The decreased likelihood of a year-long continuing resolution (CR).
With new spending levels in
place, Congress now is expected to
pass annual appropriations, or at
least an omnibus spending package, to fund the government for
the remainder of 2016.
Until now, Senate Democrats have
blocked consideration of spending
bills in an effort to secure a budget
deal. But the path now is paved for
an appropriations package.
The government currently is
operating under a stopgap CR, which
expires Dec. 11.
CRs, which traditionally hold
funding to prior-year levels, hamstring government spending by
blocking new-start contracts, halting increases in procurement quantities for existing programs and
prohibiting the signing of new
multiyear procurement deals.
For the Navy, that would have
meant putting off the contract for the
new TAO-X oiler, as well as the third
Gerald R. Ford-class carrier,
Enterprise, while also postponing the
refueling of the carrier USS George
Washington, scheduled to begin the
massive overhaul this fiscal year.
But a CR’s effects are more far-reaching than that, and are particularly acute within the Navy’s own
shipbuilding and conversion, or
For most defense acquisition
accounts, the appropriations law
contains funding for the entire
account, giving officials at least some
leeway under a CR to shift funds
from one specific program, or line
item, to another. For Navy shipbuilding, however, money is appropriated
in the law at the much more specific
line-item level, giving officials little
wiggle room to move money around.
“This can lead to line-by-line mis-
alignments (excesses and shortfalls)
in funding for SCN-funded pro-
grams, compared to the amounts
those programs received in the prior
year,” according to a Nov. 4 Congres-
sional Research Service (CRS) report.
“The shortfalls in particular can lead
to program-execution challenges
under an extended or full-year CR.”
The difference between the 2015
shipbuilding enacted levels and the
2016 request came to only $600 mil-
lion, a manageable difference in a
shipbuilding budget totaling $16 bil-
lion. But the misalignment of funds
under a full-year CR would have
been much more problematic.
According to the CRS report,
shipbuilding programs expected to
receive a boost in funding between
2015 and 2016 would have faced a
$4.1 billion cut. Conversely, programs whose spending was expected to decline over those two
years would have been flush with
excess cash, to the tune of $3.4 billion in 2016.
That amounts to a staggering mis-allocation of funds — and one that
should be avoided by passage later
this year of a full-year appropriations
measure for the department.
The Navy’s director of Air Warfare
said its strike fighter shortage cannot be alleviated by acceleration in
production of the Lockheed Martin F-35C.
“We can certainly accelerate F- 35
platforms to the left and buy those,
but they’re not [yet] at the capability
that the Navy wants,” RADM
Michael C. Manazir, director of Air
Warfare in the Office of the Chief of
Naval Operations, testified before
the House Armed Services seapower
and projection forces subcommittee
Nov. 3. “We specifically want 3F
software. That airplane with Block
3F software is the capability we need
on our carrier flight decks to support the integrated capability we
bring the rest of our air wing.