The Department of Defense (DOD) Budget: An Orientation

This report uses the FY2022 budget request for the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide a general orientation to the composition and activities of that agency.

The report divides the budget request into sections that largely correspond to the major divisions (or “titles”) of the annual defense authorization and appropriations bills. Using DOD budget data, the report identifies several categories of activity funded within each of those parts of the budget and—in some cases—provides more specific, selected examples.

The report is not designed to provide detailed analysis of elements of the budget request, but it incorporates cross-references to many CRS products intended for that purpose.


Emerging Military Technologies: Background and Issues for Congress

Members of Congress and Pentagon officials are increasingly focused on developing emerging military technologies to enhance U.S. national security and keep pace with U.S. competitors. TheU.S. military has long relied upon technological superiority to ensure its dominance in conflict and to underwrite U.S. national security. In recent years, however, technology has both rapidly evolved and rapidly proliferated—largely as a result of advances in the commercial sector. As former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel observed, this development has threatened to erode the United States’ traditional sources of military advantage. The Department of Defense (DOD) has undertaken a number of initiatives to arrest this trend. For example, in 2014, DOD announced the Third Offset Strategy, an effort to exploit emerging technologies for military and security purposes as well as associated strategies, tactics, and concepts of operation. In support of this strategy, DOD established a number of organizations focused on defense innovation, including the Defense Innovation Unit and the Defense Wargaming Alignment Group.


Report to Congress on Air Force Tanker Strategy

As discussed in the CRS report Air Force KC-46A Pegasus Tanker, the Air Force is in the process of replacing its fleet of 396 KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft, built in the 1950s and 60s, and 59 KC-10 Extenders, which entered service in 1981. Recent announcements indicate that the planned replacement program is changing significantly from its original form, which Congress may consider in evaluating the FY2022 defense budget requests.


Report to Congress on F-15EX Eagle II Fighter

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Air Force took delivery of its first F-15EX Eagle II fighter. The
Eagle II program is intended to deliver 144 aircraft to replace aging F-15Cs, most of which are in
the Air National Guard.

The Trump Administration’s FY2020 budget proposal included a request for $1.1 billion to buy 8
F-15EX aircraft, the first procurement toward a planned initial buy of 144. This proposal
represented a change from previous Air Force plans to procure only stealthy “fifth-generation”
fighter aircraft.

The subsequent FY2021 defense budget proposal requested about $1.27 billion in procurement funding for 12 Eagle IIs and $133.5 million in advance procurement for future aircraft. The proposed budget also requested about $159.8 million for F15EX research and development.


Navy Aviation Vision 2030-2035

The National Defense Strategy (NDS) identifies a complex global security environment characterized by overt challenges to the current international order and the resurgence of long-term, strategic competition among nations. It calls for a lethal, agile, resilient, and rapidly deployable force designed to compete against, deter, and win victories over all adversaries. Implementing CNO’s guidance centered on our core principles of sea control and power projection, and the forward-looking Fleet Design concept, the Navy conducts Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), providing the strong maritime component that the NDS requires. Integral to the NDS, Navy Aviation is strongly focused on updating current capabilities, bringing new and advanced platforms on line, and complementing today’s warfighting competency with enhanced tactics and procedures for the high-end fight.

Today’s Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs)—centered on large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their embarked carrier air wings (CVWs)—enable the implementation of this innovative Fleet Design by providing Fleet commanders with multi-domain military might. CSGs bring unmatched contributions of lethality, battle space awareness, and mobility to any maritime theater, ensuring the Navy’s ability to establish and sustain sea control, achieve maritime superiority, and project power at great distances. The Navy’s expeditionary fixed and rotary wing, manned and unmanned, aircraft constitute the most widely distributed aviation platforms in the world, operating in support of CSGs, Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs), and surface ships, providing a broad range of enabling missions.

The Navy Aviation Vision 2030-2035 supersedes The Vision for Naval Aviation 2025 and reflects key concepts to meet CNO’s vision of a Navy that swarms the sea, delivering synchronized lethal and non-lethal efforts from near and far, on every axis and in every domain. As the Navy plans to build and sustain a lethal, resilient force, it is imperative to have a clear roadmap aligned with, and supporting, the overarching strategy.

Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force Design

Most of the world’s people, resources, and economic activity are located not in the Western Hemisphere, but in the other hemisphere, particularly Eurasia. In response to this basic feature of world geography, U.S. policymakers for the last several decades have chosen to pursue, as a key element of U.S. national strategy, a goal of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia. This objective reflects a U.S. perspective on geopolitics and grand strategy developed by U.S. strategists and policymakers during and in the years immediately after World War II that incorporates two key judgments:

  • that given the amount of people, resources, and economic activity in Eurasia, a regional hegemon in Eurasia would represent a concentration of power large enough to be able to threaten vital U.S. interests; and
  • that Eurasia is not dependably self-regulating in terms of preventing the emergence of regional hegemons, meaning that the countries of Eurasia cannot be counted on to be fully able to prevent, through their own choices and actions, the emergence of regional hegemons, and may need assistance from one or more countries outside Eurasia to be able to do this dependably.

Private Security Contractors:DOD Needs to Better Identify and Monitor Personnel and Contracts

Published via GAO and accessed via Defense News

The Department of Defense has made significant use of private security contractors in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Contractors’ involvement in the deaths of civilians and other incidents prompted a renewed call in 2008 for nations to ensure that contractors respect international humanitarian law.

DOD has worked to improve its monitoring of its security contractor use but can’t readily or comprehensively identify these personnel and what they’re doing. For example, it can’t identify which contractors are armed.

We made 3 recommendations, including assigning responsibility to a single high-level official for monitoring contractors.

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has been unable to comprehensively identify private security contractor (PSC) contracts and personnel supporting contingency, humanitarian, peace-keeping, or other similar operations, limiting DOD’s ability to readily and accurately identify the use of PSCs. DOD uses PSCs, which include companies and their personnel, hired to provide security services for the U.S. government. However, neither DOD nor GAO was able to use DOD’s three PSC data sources to readily determine the universe of PSCs, the type of operation or exercise they support, or their functions, activities, and armed or unarmed status. For example, queries of DOD databases using the term “security guard” to identify PSC personnel excluded eight other job titles that may also perform private security functions. DOD has not comprehensively determined and communicated the contracted activities that fall within its definition of private security functions. Further, DOD does not have a means of readily identifying the contracts and personnel performing those activities in data sources. Without better identifying and tracking its PSC contracts and personnel, DOD will not be able to accurately determine its use of PSCs.

Since 2009, DOD has established an oversight framework for its use of PSC contracts, but has not fully monitored the implementation of this framework. DOD’s framework distributes oversight functions across the department as well as to organizations outside the department (see fig.).

Roles and Functions of Entities to Oversee DOD’s Use of Private Security Contractor (PSC) Contracts and Personnel

Roles and Functions of Entities to Oversee DOD's Use of Private Security Contractor (PSC) Contracts and Personnel

However, DOD has not fully monitored whether and how it and the other entities have carried out their PSC oversight roles and functions. For example, GAO reviewed data for deployed contractor personnel with the job title of “security guard” and found that about 12 percent of those individuals were employed by companies not on a DOD list of certified PSC companies. Independent, third-party certification is a key oversight mechanism DOD relies on to ensure it contracts with companies that use approved personnel hiring, screening, training, and reporting practices. DOD lacks a single, senior-level position assigned to fully monitor whether DOD and various entities are carrying out their respective PSC oversight roles and functions. Without assigning this position, DOD increases the risk of incidents that its framework aims to prevent. 

Why GAO Did This Study

During Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001–2014 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003–2011, DOD significantly increased its use of PSCs. In 2008, the Swiss Government and the Red Cross issued the Montreux Document, which generally reaffirmed the obligation nations have to ensure that their PSCs respect international humanitarian law. PSCs supporting DOD have faced international attention resulting from incidents allegedly involving their personnel.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review DOD’s use of PSCs. GAO assessed the extent to which DOD has (1) identified PSC contracts and personnel used to support contingency operations and (2) established a framework to oversee the department’s use of PSC contracts. GAO analyzed DOD contract and personnel data for PSCs from 2009 through 2019, reviewed DOD guidance on PSC use, and conducted interviews with DOD officials and representatives from standards organizations.


GAO is making three recommendations to improve PSC oversight, including identifying and communicating the activities that fall under DOD’s definition of PSC functions, and assigning a senior-level position responsible for monitoring the implementation of DOD’s PSC oversight framework. DOD partially concurred with the recommendations, agreeing in substance and planning several actions as a result. DOD’s planned actions should address the intent of GAO’s recommendations if implemented.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency AffectedRecommendation
Department of DefenseThe Secretary of Defense should ensure that the appropriate official replacing the Chief Management Officer and the Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Personnel and Readiness, and Intelligence and Security, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commanders of the Combatant Commands, and the Secretaries of the military departments, comprehensively determine and designate which of DOD’s contracted activities and services fall within the department’s definition of private security functions and communicate this information to relevant parties. (Recommendation 1)
Department of DefenseThe Secretary of Defense should ensure that the appropriate official replacing the Chief Management Officer and the Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in coordination with Commanders of the Combatant Commands, and the Secretaries of the military departments develop a means for identifying the contracts and personnel performing those activities in readily available data sources, such as by establishing a data code unique to PSCs for use in existing fields in DOD data sources. (Recommendation 2)
Department of DefenseThe Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment updates Department of Defense Instruction 3020.50 and other guidance, as appropriate, to assign a senior-level DOD position the responsibility for monitoring the roles and functions of DOD and non-DOD entities under the department’s PSC oversight framework, and require that the assigned position periodically document the results of its monitoring. (Recommendation 3)


SIGAR: Quarterly Report for the United States Congress – July 30, 2021

Report released by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko

I am pleased to submit to Congress, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and the American people, SIGAR’s 52nd quarterly report on the status of reconstruction in Afghanistan.

This quarter, the United States and its allies withdrew nearly all of their troops from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of war. Fewer than a thousand U.S. military personnel remain there, compared to 110,000 a decade ago. President Joseph R. Biden has said that the United States will continue to provide support for Afghanistan, including for its military and police. The President’s proposed FY 2022 budget includes $3.33 billion for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) as well as $364 million in civilian assistance. If appropriated by Congress, these funds would come in addition to the approximately $6.68 billion already appropriated, but yet to be disbursed for Afghanistan.

The news coming out of Afghanistan this quarter has been bleak. The Taliban offensive that began early in the quarter accelerated in June and July. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified on June 23 that the Taliban controlled about 81 districts. Less than a month later, on July 21, he told reporters the group now controlled about half of Afghanistan’s 419 districts, or more than twice as many as before. According to media reporting, the Taliban also controlled large stretches of multiple major highways, and at least six international border crossings as this report went to press. The ANDSF has retaken some districts and the Afghan government still controls all 34 provincial capitals, including Kabul, but from public reporting, the ANDSF appeared surprised and unready, and is now on its back foot. Civilian casualties hit a record high in May and June, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. The overall trend is clearly unfavorable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed.

SIGAR’s oversight mission has become both more consequential and more challenging in the absence of a major U.S. troop presence, and in light of the growing insurgent pressure on the Afghan government. Despite repeated reductions in American staff at the U.S. embassy, SIGAR remains the only U.S. oversight agency on the ground in Afghanistan, so maximizing the reach and impact of our statutory duty takes on increased importance. SIGAR issued a letter this quarter to the Administration and Congress proposing four changes that we believe, based on our 13 years of experience, would enhance the protection of continued U.S. taxpayer assistance to Afghanistan. SIGAR’s recommendations and its plans for continued oversight are discussed on page 18 of this report.

A lessons-learned report released this quarter—The Risk of Doing the Wrong Thing Perfectly: Monitoring and Evaluation of Reconstruction Contracting in Afghanistan— explores the now two-decade-long challenge of how to properly assess the effectiveness of reconstruction. The report’s key finding is that, as implemented, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) created the risk of doing the wrong thing perfectly. That is, programs could be deemed “successful” even if they had not achieved or contributed to broader, more important goals—such as creating an effective Afghan security force and a stable Afghanistan. Closely related to this finding is one of the report’s central themes: the pervasiveness of overoptimism. Overall, M&E displayed a tendency to elevate good news and anecdotes over data suggesting a lack of progress. To that extent, the report is especially useful for policymakers and practitioners seeking to understand why the Afghan security forces have continued to struggle despite the U.S. assertions of success that have been hallmarks of reconstruction.

On a more positive note, the report found that agencies generally have developed over the last 20 years relatively robust M&E or M&E-like—policies. Key aspects of these policies have the potential to improve both programmatic and strategic outcomes, provided that they are meaningfully implemented. We believe the lessons and recommendations presented in the report are relevant not only to Afghanistan, but also to U.S. efforts to promote stability elsewhere around the world.

This lessons-learned report was one of 12 products SIGAR issued this quarter. SIGAR work to date has identified approximately $3.84 billion in savings for the U.S. taxpayer.

SIGAR issued three evaluation reports this quarter. One evaluation reviewed the status of 467 recommendations from SIGAR’s nine-year financial audit program. It found that the Departments of Defense and State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had closed or implemented 376, or 81% of these recommendations, as of December 31, 2020. SIGAR’s reports also called into question the allowability of $494 million in costs incurred by these agencies. The second evaluation examined USAID’s $10 million Goldozi job-creation project and the reasons it has not achieved its goals. The third evaluation assessed the transition of ANDSF fuel-management responsibilities to the Afghan government, and CSTC-A’s lack of implementation of prior SIGAR recommendations regarding ANDSF fuel.

SIGAR completed seven financial audits of U.S.-funded projects to rebuild Afghanistan that identified $739,105 in questioned costs as a result of internal-control deficiencies and noncompliance issues. These financial audits covered a range of topics including USAID’s Civic Engagement Program, the State Department’s Legal Aid through Legal Education Program, and the U.S. Air Force’s support for operation and maintenance of the Afghan Air Force’s A-29 ground-attack aircraft.

During the reporting period, SIGAR criminal investigations resulted in two criminal informations (a prosecutor’s allegation of a crime, as distinct from a grand-jury indictment), two guilty pleas, one sentencing, $179,708 in restitutions, and an impressive $11.9 million in civil settlements.

As the situation in Afghanistan changes, SIGAR is adapting to the new reality. My colleagues and I look forward to working together with Congress and the Administration to continue to protect U.S. taxpayer funds in Afghanistan from waste, fraud, and abuse, and to improve the overall operations of the U.S. government in overseas contingency operations.


Ending Innovation Tourism: Rethinking the U.S. Military’s Approach to Emerging Technology Adoption

By Melissa Flagg and Jack Corrigan via Center for Security and Emerging Technology

As dual-use technologies transform the national security landscape, the U.S. Department of Defense has established a variety of offices and programs dedicated to bringing private sector innovation into the military. However, these efforts have largely failed to drive cutting-edge commercial technology into major military platforms and systems. This report examines the shortcomings of the DOD’s current approach to defense innovation and offers recommendations for a more effective strategy.

Executive Summary

As commercially developed, dual-use technologies transform the national security landscape, policymakers have called on the Department of Defense to bring more private sector innovation into the military. Recently, the DOD has attempted to engage tech companies through an array of “innovation” offices and programs scattered across the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the services. While these efforts have yielded numerous engagements, they have not driven innovative capabilities into the major systems and platforms that make up the bulk of the military’s force structure. This is not a failure of the offices themselves, but rather a failure of the department’s leadership to integrate them into the broader DOD acquisition ecosystem.

Innovation offices can play a critical role in linking the commercial tech industry and defense industrial base, but only if their activities inform and support the military’s broader purchasing decisions. However, under the DOD’s current organizational structure, defense innovation is disconnected from defense procurement. This division limits innovation offices’ ability to affect technological change across the military and excuses procurement offices from integrating cutting-edge capabilities into major systems and platforms. The effectiveness of innovation offices is further limited by their placement in the research and development (R&D) chain of command. A research office cannot perform a procurement job.

We find the military’s current approach to engaging with small tech companies, or nontraditional vendors, is more akin to innovation tourism—with the DOD sampling the local fare of the United States’ various tech hubs—than a bona fide strategy for bringing emerging technologies into the department. To integrate the activities of innovation offices into the broader defense procurement pipeline, the DOD must change the incentives that drive its acquisition ecosystem. We propose DOD leaders take the following steps to begin building a more effective innovation ecosystem:

  1. Define innovation goals and increase transparency.
  2. Share and use market intelligence across the acquisition ecosystem.
  3. Create safe spaces for collaboration.

These proposals are not comprehensive. Rather, we intend them to serve as short-term solutions to spur emerging technology adoption. Solving the military’s technology adoption problem is impossible without an overhaul of its acquisition process, and the realities of our present political and national security environment will likely prevent lawmakers from enacting such broad-based reforms in the near term. In the meantime, a major near-peer competition is in full swing. The DOD must act immediately to implement a true innovation strategy using the authorities it currently has at its disposal. The country cannot allow perfection to be the enemy of progress.

A few isolated organizations and programs alone cannot transform the culture and technological capabilities of the entire U.S. military. Unless the DOD adapts its acquisition strategy and the incentives of the organizations responsible for carrying it out, its capabilities will lag behind the state of the art, particularly in digital technologies, and its competitive advantage will continue to erode.


HASC Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces: NDAA FY22 Markup

Published by the House Armed Services Committee, accessed via The Hill

Seapower and Projection Forces Mark Summary for H.R. 4350 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022

Led by Chairman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces today released their proposals for the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Subcommittee will meet at 2:00pm ET on Wednesday, July 28 in Rayburn 2118 and via the WebEx platform. The markup will be live streamed on the committee’s website. The Subcommittee’s mark is available here.

Specifically, this year’s proposal:

  • Recommends the restoration of a second Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
  • Recommends to the full committee that the Navy procure eight battle force ships including two Virginia-class submarines; two DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers; one guided missile Frigate (FFG); one T-AO fleet oiler; one T-AGOS(X) surveillance ship; and one T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships.
  • Includes a provision that will help ensure ship designs are adequately mature at the start of construction. 
  • Maintains a statutory floor that the Air Force is required to retain for tactical airlift aircraft. 
  • Mandates a cost and schedule baseline for the B-52 commercial re-engine program. 
  • Requires the Navy to make sustainment a Key Performance Parameter (KPP) during the solicitation. 
  • Adds additional components to the continuous production authority within the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF). 
  • Recommends two additional V-22 Osprey aircraft.
  • Recommends continuing support for the propulsion and propeller upgrades of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130H airlift aircraft.
  • Requires the Navy to implement a land-based test program for the DDG(X) destroyer program. 
  • Restricts funds associated with the VC-25B program until an updated schedule is provided.
  • Requires the Navy to include an advanced degaussing system in the next multi-year contract for DDG-51 destroyers. 
  • Fully fund the Tanker Security Fleet at the authorized level of $60M.
  • Recommends full funding for the B-21 Raider program.
  • Recommends funding of the 5th National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) for the State Maritime Academies.