Pentagon's budgets up despite cuts
Washington — To pay its mounting bills for Indian Ocean defense and also meet President Carter's requirements for a balanced federal budget, the Pentagon has trimmed some programs -- but still needs $5.2 billion more from Congress.
Much of the extra money for the 1980 and 1981 defense budgets, say top US Department of Defense officials, will go to meet the rapidly inflating costs of fuel and services.
Defense Secretary Harold Brown and his budget experts have sent their revised figures to the armed services committees of the US house and Senate, where the new figures face close scrutiny and tough debate.
Skyrocketing world oil prices have raised the US military services' oil bills by $2.5 billion in fiscal 1980 (which ends Sept. 30) and $2.9 billion more for fiscal 1981, the defense officials explain.
Costs for items other than fuel have been rising at rates unforeseen when the 1981 budget proposals were first prepared late last year. This inflation adds another $300 million in the 1980 budget and $1 billion for 1981. One-third of the extra expenditure arises from keeping about 30 US warships and 1,800 marines in the Indian Ocean crisis zone.
The rest, Secretary Brown has told Congress, will go for equipping, transporting, and improving Indian Ocean facilities for the Pentagon's 110,000 -man Rapid Deployment Force.
Defense officials say the four armed services are not planning reductions in flying or sea time, although fuel costs inflated 69 percent from 1979 to 1980 and are expected to jump another 11 percent by 1981. The Defense Department proposes to offset some of the extra cost and avoid cutting flying or steaming time by trimming both major and minor programs:
* A freeze had been put on hiring civilians for the armed forces, effective April 1. This is to eliminate 15,000 federal defense jobs. It should save $211 million through 1981.
* The Pentagon says it will save $36 million on travel costs, $45 million on studies and analyses, $90 million on base operations supervision, and $89 million in real property operating costs.
* Development of new Army weapons systems is deferred to 1982. These include the DIVAD antiaircraft gun and ammunition (saving $160 million), the XM-252 mortar and ammunition (saving $26.5 million), and modifications in the M-60 and XM-1 tank programs. The Army's Hellfire antitank missile also is deferred.
* The Navy is to do without some $35 million for submarine reactor cores, two C-9B logistical support aircraft, 12 A-7K attack planes (saving $112.9 million), and one Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate costing $190 million. Also saved is $ 4.1 million in unspent funds from 1979 for Trident submarines.
* The Air Force in fiscal 1981 loses, among other items, some C-130 and F-15 fighter updates, saving $110 million, and upgrading of Hawk missile systems, paring off another $20.4 million.
* The US Marine Corps Harrier AV8-B "jump jet" aircraft fares better. The $ 180 million appropriated last year for continued development of the Harrier has not been cut. Congress, in fact, is even likely to try to add $300 million or more for that program not requested by the Pentagon.
* Out of about $200 million budgeted for Navy and Air Force "space-age" high-energy laser weapons programs, some $56 million is being cut in 1980 and 1981.
* The Pentagon also is maintaining its request for $80.7 million to begin development of a controversial new transport, the CX, needed to speed tanks and other heavy cargo, as well as troops, to distant overseas areas.