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Pentagon Cuts Research Budget by $500 Million

by Brendan McGarry on March 5, 2014

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The Defense Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2015 would cut $500 million from science and technology accounts, the so-called seed corn of military superiority.

The Pentagon’s spending plan unveiled on March 4 requests $11.5 billion for the S&T program, a $500 million, or 4.2 percent, decline from this year.

“Although the FY 2015 request is slightly lower than the FY 2014 enacted amount of $12.0 billion, the Department’s S&T program remains strong and continues the focus on Anti-access/Area-denial, and the rebalance to the Asia Pacific region,” the budget overview states.

The funding level reflects just 2 percent of the Pentagon’s overall base, or non-war, budget of $496 billion. Broken down by program, the S&T request includes $5 billion for advanced technology development, $4.5 billion for applied research and $2 billion for basic research, according to the document.

Several specific missions were identified for funding, such as “project power despite anti-access/area-denial challenges,” at $2 billion; “counter weapons of mass destruction,” $1 billion; “operate effectively in cyberspace and space,” $900 million, “electronic warfare,” $500 million and “high-speed kinetic strike” vehicles, $300 million.

Broken down by institution, the research budget would include almost $3 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, about $2 billion apiece for the Army, Navy and Air Force, another $2 billion for basic research and additional funding for the National Advanced Manufacturing Initiative.

The DARPA funding is “to develop technologies for revolutionary, high-payoff military capabilities,” the document states. The agency’s work into computers and networks famously helped lead to hypertext and the Internet.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, has warned lawmakers that American military technological superiority isn’t assured amid an era of automatic federal spending reductions known as sequestration.

“This is not a future problem,” he said. “It’s a here-and-now problem.”

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