U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement on the Administration Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for the Department of Defense:
“I’m pleased that the President’s budget request continues to support our military men and women fighting against terrorists and violent extremists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the globe. The budget also provides much needed funding increases in several key areas-such as military personnel, operations and maintenance, and the Missile Defense Agency. Additionally, I’m pleased that the budget includes funding for 52 new unmanned aerial vehicles-which are critical platforms for winning on today’s battlefields.
“With that being said, the President’s budget request is a mixed bag-the good is accompanied by several points of concern. With respect to the $350 million requested for detainee operations, I do not support authorizing those funds for a terrorist detention facility in the United States and will work with my colleagues on the committee to ensure these funds are not used to import terrorists into our backyards.
“In the military personnel accounts, similar to the private sector, I’m concerned about the growing costs of healthcare. While I appreciate the Department’s attempts to generate savings by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in the Defense Health Program, I want to make sure that such efforts do not jeopardize the access our troops, retirees and their families have to first-rate healthcare at an affordable cost to them and the taxpayer.
“While the budget includes an overall increase for missile defense, the Administration doesn’t appear to be making the necessary investments in Aegis ballistic missile defense platforms that are required to meet the President’s new European missile defense plan. My fear is that the Administration is planning to harvest these assets from the Navy’s already under-resourced ship-building plan.
“Additionally, I’m concerned we are not making the necessary investments in research and development-as well as across-the-board investments in our weapons platforms-that will be required to meet the threats outlined in the Quadrennial Defense Review. Since we have not yet been provided the usual projection for future years spending, I am very concerned about the Administration’s intentions for these and other programs.
“Finally, it’s disconcerting that the Department has once again failed to fund the competitive engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter. Competition is well-known to provide cost benefits and increased product reliability, while also providing a second manufacturing source for this critical component. I’m at a loss to understand why the Department supports competitive sourcing in every other major acquisition program, but opposes reaping the benefits of competition in the most expensive developmental program in defense history.
“We’re looking forward to hearing more about these issues and others when Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.”