2 May 2011 By KATE BRANNEN- DefenseNews
The U.S. Army has told Congress it has no unfunded requirements for fiscal year 2012, according to a letter from Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Army's new chief of staff. Since 1995, lawmakers have asked service chiefs to prepare lists of things they want but didn't get money for in the Pentagon's annual funding request. This is the first time since then that the Army has said its budget request covers everything the service needs, according to one congressional staffer. In an April 15 letter to Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., Dempsey says the president's budget request "reflects funding for the highest priorities of the Army." Smith serves as the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee. "As such, the Army will not present any unfunded requirements and the Secretary and I will endeavor to fund all Army requirements with whatever funding the Congress sees fit to appropriate," Dempsey writes. Last year, Gen. George Casey, then-Army Chief of Staff, requested $359 million in additional 2011 funding. In the Army's memo last year, Casey noted that the service did not have unfunded requirements, but areas where additional funding could enhance existing programs. The amount of funding requested in the unfunded requirements lists has dropped precipitously in recent years. In February 2008, the Air Force's wish list for the 2009 budget request totaled $18.7 billion, dwarfing the Navy's $4.6 billion list, the Army's $3.9 billion in unfunded needs, and the Marine Corps' $1.3 billion list. In response to these growing lists, Defense Secretary Robert Gates inserted himself into the process in May 2009, asking the service chiefs to send him their unfunded lists before sending them over to Congress. Dempsey says the Army's 2012 base budget request of $144.9 billion allows the Army to sustain an all-volunteer force, to adjust its global posture in line with the country's strategic requirements and to provide soldiers with the most effective equipment and training available. It also allows the service to modernize the force and develop new technologies to meet future threats, according to Dempsey. For 2012, the Army has separately requested $71 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "As we execute FY12 programs and funding, there may be fact of life changes that we will ask for your support to mitigate," Dempsey writes.