According to the Congressional Quarterly, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not give Congress formal lists of programs that were excluded from the president’s budget request that they would like to see funded. Officially known as the Unfunded Priorities Lists, the documents submitted have effectively been an extension of the Pentagon’s annual spending request for more than a decade. The chiefs of the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy have all confirmed that they will not submit a “wish list,” while the chiefs of the Army and National Guard Bureau have not confirmed.
The chiefs’ decisions are already fueling a debate about whether the defense budget is and will be sufficient in future years. House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon has argued that the lists provide an important tool for Congress to assess the adverse impact of budget cuts and where additional funds may assist the military. In addition, the chairman has asserted that increasing spending on a given program does not necessarily mean another need to be cut. Further, without the lists Congress will not be able to easily identify where money needs to be allocated. Many programs and projects could therefore be overlooked.
On the other hand, some see that the absence of the lists will not hinder the Total Force. Many feel that the budget is sufficient and aligns with the Pentagon’s new strategy. In fact, before they went before Congress, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey asked for lists from the chiefs. Therefore, the heads of the Pentagon are well aware of the concerns and needs of the military and prioritize those in the budget request. Furthermore, if the Unfunded Priorities Lists are not submitted, communication between the military and Congress will not shut down. There are other means for the military to address Congress (i.e. in testimony, hearings, etc.).
As a Reservist, how do you feel about the omission of the Unfunded Priorities List? Do you feel that Reserve needs will be overlooked? Or do you feel that Congress will be more efficient in addressing the military and the budget? Comment below with your opinions.