WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has handed to Congress its list of unfunded priorities for 2016 – a list that, as Defense Secretary Ash Carter made clear in his March 27 cover letter to congressional leaders, should not be used to replace items already in the regular budget request that “we deemed more important, with ripple effects across the budget.”
Carter cautioned that he does “not endorse any of these additional priorities unless enacted funding exceeds the amount requested in the president’s budget for 2016. We have made extensive efforts to thoroughly assess, prioritize and balance force capacity, capability and readiness.”
Congressional leaders annually have requested the military services to hand over a list of items that didn’t make the budget cut, allowing lawmakers the chance to pick specific items to try and insert into the budget. Sometimes Congress adds money, but often trades items to offset costs.
The Army’s list, wrote Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff, aims to shore up modernization programs for existing systems, including AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned surveillance aerial vehicles and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile missiles, while “modernizing and enhancing our network cyber security for critical installations in the Continental US, Europe and Korea.”