Jumat, Juli 09, 2010

Pentagon Wants to Move $3.9B Around

U.S. soldiers with an M1A1 Bradley tank in Iraq in 2007. The new Defense Department reprogramming request calls for cutting $200 million in funding for the Bradley program. (U.S. MARINE CORPS)

The Pentagon wants to shift nearly $4 billion in previously allocated funding, much of it within the Army's budget to buy arms and gear needed in Afghanistan, according to a July 2 omnibus reprogramming request.

Defense News obtained a copy of the 89-page request, signed by Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale and sent to Congress for review.

A similar cut moves $143 million out of research and development funding for the Army's Combat Vehicle Improvement program. The funds are available because the Pentagon has delayed its decision to upgrade the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Abrams tank, according to the reprogramming request.

To support operations, the Pentagon wants to shift $100 million to purchase 1,500 One System Remote Video Terminal, the Army's version of the Air Force's ROVER system, which provides soldiers access to full-motion video shot by UAVs.

The Pentagon would also like to shift $10 million to start developing a replacement for the M113 armored personnel carrier.

"These funds will inform the Army on the current state-of-the-art M113 replacement options, potentially provide a forum for industrial teaming allowing the Army to refine its requirement document and explore current vehicles for adaptability to the M113 requirements," the document said.

The Pentagon also shifts $35 million in Army funding for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) to the Navy's research and development accounts for the same program.

The "funds are available because the Rifleman radio is not prepared for Milestone C in fiscal year 2010 due to deficiencies found during the Limited User Test," the document said.

Instead, the money will be spent on accelerating the delivery of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) systems for test and potential deployment to theater, according to the document.

The Pentagon also reduces funding for the Joint Assault Bridge by $68 million, citing a program restructuring that shifted authority for the program from the Marine Corps to the Army. Low-rate initial production has been delayed until fiscal year 2013, according to the document.

For the Air Force, the Pentagon generally shifts money from procurement accounts to spending on personnel.

The Pentagon would like to cut $36 million from the Air Force's Global Hawk program.

"Obligations are late due to delays in the development test program, late and poor quality proposals from contractors, and reprioritization of acquisition activities to meet urgent Combatant Commander requirements," the document reads. The Pentagon cuts an additional $18 million from the program later in the request.

Most of the $74 million plus-up allocated to the Navy for administration activities - $54 million - was needed for increased costs for personnel security investigations. USS Independence, the second littoral combat ship and the first ship from the General Dynamics-Austal USA team, received an additional $5.3 million to meet higher than anticipated costs to correct problems discovered on sea trials. The effort to re-start DDG 51-class destroyer production with a new Flight III version got another $6.7 million to create a capability development document.

The MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial aircraft received a 50 percent plus-up of $13 million to support completion of operational evaluation (OPEVAL) efforts to take place on board the frigate Halyburton. Continuation of the OPEVAL was necessary after the 2009-2010 effort on board the frigate McInerney encountered numerous technical challenges and discrepancies. The money became available when the service eliminated two of five aircraft it planned to buy this year due to the availability of airframes transferred from the Army.

The Naval Special Warfare Scan Eagle effort to operate unmanned aerial surveillance and attack aircraft in the Mideast received a boost of $8 million to buy replacement air vehicles and spare parts.

A Navy program restructuring effort paid off with a reduction of $4.8 million in the Aerial Common Sensor program.

The Marines Corps' Harvest Hawk effort to give a rapid-response fire support capability to KC-130J Hercules aerial tankers got a plus-up of $1.3 million for modernized avionics.

Accelerated procurement of the Transportable Radar Surveillance Model 2 radar (TPY-2) radar led to a new start addition of $191 million. The funds were available after delays were encountered in fielding batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile.

An omnibus reprogramming request is sent to Congress each year. It is meant to shift funding to more urgently needed items. The request will be reviewed by the four congressional defense committees, who have the option to reject any of the requested changes.

According to the documents, $234 million is available in the Army's home station operation and maintenance accounts because several units deployed in Iraq were unable to return home due to "delayed Iraqi elections and the increased security posture in Iraq."

Alternatively, $70 million is available in Marine Corps operation and maintenance funds because their combat operations in Iraq were curtailed earlier than previously planned.

In the reprogramming, the Pentagon directs money toward equipment needed in Afghanistan, including Army helicopters, which are in high demand, as well as money to improve secure networked communications in the country.

The Pentagon is requesting $45 million for U.S. Central Command's Operation Earnest Voice (OEV) program, whose funding, according to the documents, was reduced by Congress in the 2010 budget.

"The OEV program is strongly endorsed by the Commander, USCENTCOM, and serves as USCENTCOM's primary and enduring non-kinetic weapon in its irregular warfare arsenal for countering adversary information operations."

The money will go toward "products to counter radical ideology and influence key audiences across the region via Internet or other mediums."

According to the documents, the program "provides the capability to engage audience on native language (Arabic and Urdu) web blogs, chat rooms, and social networks."

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