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Panetta Lays Out Initial Defense Budget Spending Plans

Yesterday the Pentagon made a series of presentations and media events to lay out the initial numbers for future spending. The goal of the Secretary Leon Panetta’s Defense Department is to cut $487 billion in ten years with the current Five Year Defense Plan (FYDP) containing over half the reductions. As part of this DoD released a 15 page document and a one page budget summary that provides top level guidance on the plans.

Many of the planned cut backs are based on the idea that with the disengagement of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan cuts may be made in those areas. This means that money for the “Global War on Terror (GWOT)” or “Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)” as that support was called will see significant cuts. In FY10 it was $163 billion, in FY11 $159 billion with $115 billion planned for FY12 and only $88 billion in FY13. This adds up to a 54 percent reduction and saves $75 billion in those three years.

Since personnel costs both for the current Active members, their dependents,the reserve force and retirees make up about thirty percent of the defense budget there will be reductions and adjustments to their size and benefits. 100,000 Soldiers and Marines will be eliminated from the active military with the Army losing approximately 8 brigades of troops. Even though the Marine Corps has grown substantially since 9/11 it maintains the same force structure of 3 active divisions and 1 reserve so there will be cuts to the size of individual units and support forces. The Pentagon states that even with these cuts the size of the ground forces will be bigger then on 9/11. There will also be increases in medical costs to the individuals and a commission to revamp military retirement benefits.

The Air Force and Navy will too see reductions in their force structure. The Navy will retire some ships early while delaying the construction of others. This means that it won’t grow as fast as currently planned. The Air Force will lose some tactical aircraft, cut transports and reduce planned buys of some F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Only a few programs are targeted for elimination so far. These include the C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft used primarily by the Air National Guard. It is planned the C-130 will provide needed capability there. The new Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) which is to replace the Maverick and Hellfire missiles will be scaled back. It was about to select its prime contractor. The Global Hawk Block 30 will finish production and there will be some other nibbling around the edges.

All of this ads up to some significant reduction in business for defense contractors. The JAGM was a large contract that either Raytheon (RTN) or Lockheed Martin (LMT) were hoping to win. The cuts in ship production will affect Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) and General Dynamics (GD). Reduction in JSF will certainly affect Lockheed and its support contractors.

The contractors who provide support in Afghanistan and at bases across the U.S. will see cuts as there are smaller, less troops to support. Logistics needs will also be cut back so those making things like battle armor, uniforms, and small arms will also be affected.

Overall it will will remove about 9% of planned spending in FY13-17 from the defense budget. That will cause some companies severe pain depending on how broad their product line and customer base is.

Of course Congress is the final say and they could easily keep some of the funding for some of the programs cushioning the cuts and blows to the defense industry. The elections this year will also have a key affect.

A lot more to come as yesterday was just a starting point.

Photo is from U.S. Navy Imagery’s Flickr photostream.

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