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Republicans Poised to Slam Obama on Defense

The Navy wish list included about $10 billion in items spanning the service. It did not include, however, about $7 billion that would be required over five years to refuel and overhaul the USS George Washington aircraft carrier.

The Marine Corps’ provided a separate wish list that included about $2.5 billion in items spanning readiness, equipment modernization, and support.

The National Guard provided a list of about $1.5 billion in unfunded wishes. Defense appropriators often provide to the guard about $1 billion in unrequested funds annually for which it is expected to use for unfunded needs.

Congressional Mandates

Unfunded priority lists were once the norm on Capitol Hill until former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ended the practice because it often was used by the services to subvert the priorities of the Defense secretary and the Office of Management and Budget.

But the fiscal 2013 defense policy bill (PL 112-239) directed the Pentagon to release the lists. Congress also mandated that the military commands also provide wish lists.

Special Operations Command offered a separate list totaling about $400 million, large chunks of which went to increases in flight hours and command, control and communications investments.

Pacific Command included $165 million in unfunded priorities, while Northern Command said it had no unfunded wishes.

Southern Command sought $422 million, and Strategic Command $181 million.

“Budget discipline in the services had gone the way of the gooney bird — it is extinct,” said Gordon Adams, a budget expert with Stimson Center in Washington, a non-partisan think tank. “Even with the secretary’s disclaimer, these should never have been sent forward. Bottom line: they are not going to be funded, but this is politics, not a budget process.”

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