Defense Budget Briefing Book and Reaction to President Obama’s FY16 Request


Amanda Waldron

Laicie Heeley

Yesterday, President Obama submitted to Congress his Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Budget Request, which includes a $534 billon base budget—the largest in nominal terms in the history of the Pentagon, ripping past sequestration caps. The president’s spending plan includes an additional $50.9 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which has frequently been used as a way to evade the congressionally mandated budget caps.

Today, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation released its annual Defense Budget Briefing Book. It includes a breakdown of the president’s request, an analysis of Pentagon and Department of Energy nuclear weapons spending, and a summary of defense trends under the budget caps.

Click to download the briefing book: FY 2016 Defense Budget Briefing Book

Center Chairman Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (ret.):

It is difficult to discern a direct connection between the proposed defense budget and a coherent strategy that addresses current and foreseeable threats to our security. Priorities must be established to limit defense expenditures in order to provide adequate investments in essential non-military aspects of our national strength.

The Pentagon request includes a continued focus on major weapons systems, with $10.6 billion for 57 F-35 fighter jets; $1.6 billion for 19 V-22 Ospreys; $3.4 billion for 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft; and $1.9 billion for three Littoral Combat Ships, among others. Big spending on weapons is offset by calls to retire the A-10 fleet, launch another BRAC round, and institute greater TRICARE healthcare reforms—reforms lawmakers have balked at in the past.

In addition to these major requests, the FY16 budget previews the next decade of nuclear weapons spending, surpassing what was spent during the height of the Cold War.

Center Executive Director Angela Canterbury:

Throwing more taxpayer dollars at everything on the defense-spending wish list is not sustainable—and it doesn’t make us safer. The increased spending on new, high-priced weapons systems that don’t work, coupled with a doubling-down on last century’s nuclear weapons, represent a losing proposition for our security. No matter what you care most about—spending smarter on defense, reducing federal spending overall, or investing more in education, infrastructure, or the environment—there are major trade-offs with this continued profligate Pentagon spending.

Over the long term, the President’s request calls for an even bigger increase in base Pentagon spending, to $570 billion in 2020, with a placeholder of $27 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

“Though the request promises a plan to phase the OCO account back into the base budget by 2020, it’s unclear if that’s realistic,” said Laicie Heeley, Policy Director at the Center. “In any case, OCO remains outside the base budget for now, continuing the irresponsible budgeting of the past.”

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Angela Canterbury, Laicie Heeley and other Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation experts are available for further comment and broadcast bookings by contacting Amanda Waldron at 202.546.0795 X 2115 or

###The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to enhancing international peace and security in the 21st