Campaign Promises

Departments -> Defense -> Defense Spending

Defense SpendingGrade
DE-20 The Promise: "End the abuse of supplemental budgets ..."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:Six months after taking office, President Obama sought to add pork to the FY2010 war funding bill, $83.4B of which was earmarked for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Items unrelated to the war effort he sought to add were $4B to combat the H1N1 virus, $5B to buttress the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the "cash for clunkers" program to jump-start lagging auto sales, $3.1B for aircraft (C-17's and C-130's) the Pentagon did not want, and others.

The $61.4B FY2011 supplementary war funding bill signed into law by President Obama on 07/29/10 contained non-war related items such as $24B to keep teachers, firefighters and police officers employed, $13B for Vietnam Veteran Agent Orange survivors, $5.7B for PELL grants, $2.8B for aid to Haiti, $275M for the Gulf Coast oil spill, and funding such special interest requirements as improving port facilities in Guam ($50M).

The above examples are provided as illustration that U.S. taxpayer monies for supplemental "war" purposes are not always used for those purposes.

This promise was not fulfilled.
DE-21 The Promise: "We need greater investment in advanced technology ranging from the revolutionary, like unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare capabilities, to systems like the C-17 cargo and KC-X air refueling aircraft..."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:The FY2010 defense budget appropriated $88.5M for C-17 Multi-Year Procurement, $424M for C-17 Advance Procurement, a Senate plus-up for 10 additional C-17's valued at $2.5B, $120M for C-17 Modifications, and $161M for C-17 Research & Development Management. The 279th and final C-17 was completed at Boeing's Long Beach, California plant and flown on 11/29/15.

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus was selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) in 02/11 as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older KC-135 Stratotankers. The first 18 combat-ready aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the USAF by 08/17.

In FY2010, the MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) procurement was funded at $754M for 24 each against a budget request of $955M for 36 each; the acquisition of five each MQ-4 UAVs for $802M was consistent with the President's budget proposal; the RQ-7 Shadow was fully funded at $666M for 11 each, as was the MQ-8 Fire Scout at $77M for 5 each.

Different electronic warfare systems also received funding consistent with the President's budget proposal such as the Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar at $90M, the AN/SLQ-32 at $34M, electronic warfare technology at $88M, electronic warfare development at $248M, Joint Counter-Radio Controlled IED Electronic Warfare (JCREW), Space and Electronic Warfare Architecture Development at $42M.

In 09/10, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded an $89M contract to Boeing/Qinetiq for their "Solar Eagle" concept capable of keeping 1,000 pounds of payload aloft for five years with 5kw of power. Boeing planned to prove an initial 30-day "Solar Eagle" airworthiness capability by CY2014, but the program was cancelled in CY2012.

While the above examples indicated that the promise to invest in these technologies was on track to be fulfilled, the deficit-cutting plan included in the overarching debt ceiling agreement reached and signed into law on 08/02/11 caused the Pentagon to cut an initial $325B from its FY2012 budget. These cuts affected sustained investments in advanced science and technology throughout the armed forces.

As an example, here's the DoD Science & Technology (S&T) funding profile, with the FY2009 amount of $13.4B as a baseline, during President Obama's tenure in office:

FY2010 - $13.7B
FY2011 - $11.8B
FY2012 - $12.2B
FY2013 - $11.9B
FY2014 - $12.0B
FY2015 - $12.2B
FY2016 - $13.0B
FY2017 - $13.4B

As the above portrays, DoD funding for S&T during President Obama's two terms in office, in part attributed to sequestration, was rather anemic.

This promise was not fulfilled.
DE-22 The Promise: "Work to bring pay more in line with that of the private sector, as measured by the employment cost index (ECI)."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:Current law (Section 1009(c) of U.S.C. Title 37) states that military pay raises shall increase at the percentage of the Employment Cost Index (ECI) for the base quarter of the year before the preceding year, keyed to wages and salaries for private industry workers.

The automatic adjustment is tied to the increase in the ECI from the 3rd Quarter of the third preceding year to the 3rd Quarter of the second preceding year. For example, in the 12-month period between the quarter which ended in 09/10 and the quarter which ended in 09/11, the ECI increased by 1.7%. Hence the pay raise for CY2013, as calculated by the statutory formula, was 1.7%.

The following depicts the relationship between military pay raises and the prevailing ECI during President Obama's two terms in office:

Fulfilling this promise looked promising during President Obama's first term but fell apart during his second.

This promise was not fulfilled.
DE-23 The Promise: "Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face...We must prioritize getting vitally needed equipment to our Soldiers and Marines before lives are lost."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:When President Obama assumed office in CY2009, a critical gap existed between reconciling the Defense Logistics Agency's (DLA's) spare parts inventory and field requirements. The Department of Defense (DoD) needed to do a better job in forecasting what the Armed Forces actually needed and more accurately calculate how long it took to produce these items and deliver them to the end user -- the war fighter.

For example, the U.S. Army in CY2007 confirmed a CY2003 requirement that the Soldier-Wearable Acoustic Targeting System (SWATS) was safe for soldiers to use. SWATS are rugged and lightweight (450 g) provide direction and distance in a fraction of a second and 360 degree coverage. Visual indication is shown on a shoulder display. The system is available in vehicle (VMS) and fixed-site (FSS) versions. As of end-CY2011, more than 18,000 units had been delivered to the warfighter.

The Mine-Resistent, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle started in CY2007 during the Bush Administration has saved thousands of lives. MRAP vehicles have a V-shaped hull that deflects the force of bombs and roadside Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that blow up beneath them, in contrast with Humvee vehicles that have flat bottoms. According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report dated 01/18/11, Congress appropriated over $40B for the MRAP vehicle through FY2010. The President's FY2011 request for $3.4B for the MRAP Vehicle Fund was authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (Public Law 111-383). After delivering about 20,000 MRAP vehicles for efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon focused on the development of a more agile Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), the delivery of which would occur in CY2018 after a six-year delay.

The Pentagon's new "fast lane" system, initiated by former Defense Secretary Gates, also appeared promising to get needed equipment to the troops fast. A new "Boomerang" system to detect the origin of sniper gunshots was fast-tracked to outposts in Afghanistan in CY2011. Over 200K pairs of "Ballistic Underwear" were also expedited to Afghanistan in CY2011 to help minimize wounds received from bombs detonated by foot patrols.

Despite improvements in the delivery of protective equipment, lives continued to be lost and troops continued to be wounded. As of 12/31/16, the tally was:

3,481 Killed in Action (KIA), 929 deaths due to non-hostile actions, plus 13 DoD Civilian KIA for a total of 4,423 in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as 31,958 Wounded in Action (WIA);

38 KIA plus 35 deaths due to non-hostile actions for a total of 73 during Iraqi Operation New Dawn as well as 295 WIA;

1,833 KIA and 383 deaths due to non-hostile actions for a total of 2,216 under Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In addition, there were 131 campaign-related deaths at other locations as well as four (4) DoD civilians deaths, all totaling 2,351 KIA. OEF also resulted in 20,092 WIA;

Eight (8) KIA plus 23 deaths due to non-hostile actions and 21 WIA under Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS/ISIL;

44 U.S. KIA and 16 deaths under non-hostile circumstances, plus 360 WIA reported to date under Afghan Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

In certain areas, progress was made to protect our troops by the Obama Administration. For FY2012 alone, $2.8B was provided for measures to counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) activities in Iraq and Afghanistan; $3.2B was provided for MRAP vehicles; $453M was provided for upgrading M-1 Abrama tanks; and $1.5B was provided for the National Guard and Reserves to meet urgent equipment needs.

This promise was fulfilled.
DE-24 The Promise: " increased R&D for naval forces."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:The U.S. Navy's (USN's) Research and Development (R&D) budget for FY2009 was set at $19.3B. This was the amount to be increased. Here's a profile of President Obama's requests for USN Research, Development, Test and Evalustion during his two terms in office:

On 02/04/12, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Jonathan Greenert, announced that the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) provided for a battle force of 285 ships in FY2017. A new Force Structure Assessment (FSA) completed later in CY2012 increased the battle force projection to a goal of 306 ships, adjusted to 308 in CY2014. That level would be constituted by 11 aircraft carriers, 12 ballistic-missile submarines, 48 attack submarines, 88 large surface combatants, 52 small surface combatants, 34 amphibious warfare ships, 29 combat logistics force ships and 34 support vessels. As of mid-CY2016, excluding approximately 200 ready-reserve and mothballed/reserve ships that could be activated in case of a national or international crisis, the USN had a battle force of 282 ships.

The trend of President Obama's requests for USN RDT&E funding, with the exception of a small increase in FY2010, indicates that he requested less each year during the FY2011-FY2017 timeframe than the amount funded in FY2009.

This promise was not fulfilled.
DE-25 The Promise: "...will support sea basing ships capable of support humanitarian missions as well as combat mission."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:The Amphibious Assault Ship (Multi-Purpose) designated "LHD" is an example of the type of ship referred to in this promise. The LHD serves as the lead ship of a U.S. Navy (USN) Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG), embarks, transports, deploys, commands and fully supports all elements of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of 2,000 Marines, inserting forces on shore via helicopters, landing craft and amphibious vehicles for humanitarian and other conventional purposes.

To support combat operations as well as non-combatant evacuations and humanitarian missions, LHD's have hospital facilities including 6 fully equipped operating rooms and other hospital facilities capable of treating up to 600 patients.

The Navy's 30-year plan released in 02/10 recognized the value of multi-purpose amphibious ships and planned to maintain an adaptable amphibious landing force of approximately 33 ships in the near term (2011-2020) with 11 of the 33 being LHA/D amphibious assault ships. As of mid-CY2016, the USN operated seven (7) LHA and eight (8) LHD ships, four (4) over the CY2010 plan.

Further, during President Obama's tenure in office, the USN planned to introduce the following ships to the fleet over the coming years, each with humanitarian assistance/disaster relief capabilities:
- 23 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). This ship was renamed Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) in 09/15. As of mid-CY2016, six (6) had been delivered and two (2) were under construction
- up to 4 Mobile Landing Platform (MLP)/Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) ships. These ships were renamed Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) and Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB) respectively in 09/15. Both have humanitarian aid/disaster relief capabilities. As of mid-CY2016, two (2) ESD and one (1) ESB ships had been delivered to the USN. One of each variant is under construction for an increased total of five (5).

This promise was fulfilled.
DE-26 The Promise: "...will modernize the many capable ships that we now have and tilt the investment balance towards more capable, smaller combatants, while maintaining the Navy's ability to command the seas."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:1. Modernization: Under its Phased Modernization Plan (PMP) introduced in 03/14, the U.S. Navy (USN) would have placed 11 cruisers and three dock-landing ships into a reduced operating status primarily for modernization purposes. Under the plan, the cruisers were to be minimally manned for 5 to 12 years.

In CY2015, Congress came up with a new modernization plan. Under this plan, the USN would pull 2 cruisers out of service each year with the modernization period not to exceed 4 years, and no more than 6 cruisers to be out of service at any point in time. This came to be referred to as the "2/4/6 Plan."

Two years later for FY2017, President Obama's administration proposed to revert back to the USN's PMP and 'drydock' all 11 cruisers and one amphibious ship at the same time.

Here's the profile for President Obama's annual budget requests for ship modernization:
FY2010..........$343M (Down from $374M in FY2009)

2. Investment in Smaller Combatants: In CY2001, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program was established, calling for 52 units to be produced. In CY2014, the Pentagon decided that the final 20 ships in the program were to be built as a variant of the original LCS design and were to be referred to as "Frigates."

In 12/15, in view of budget limitations imposed by the deficit-cutting plan signed into law on 08/02/11 that caused the Pentagon to cut an estimated $350B to $450B through FY2023, the Obama Administration directed the USN to reduce the LCS/Frigate program to a total of 40 ships.

Back on 02/04/12, the Chief of Naval Operation had announced that instead of a 301-ship Navy anticipated for FY2017, that number was adjusted downward to 285. Despite budget cuts, this number was later adjusted during CY2012 to 306, and further adjusted in CY2014 to 308.

As of end-CY2016, not counting approximately 200 ready-reserve and mothballed ships that could be activated in case of a national or international crisis, the USN had 282 deployable battle force ships.

This promise was not fulfilled.
DE-27 The Promise: "...humanitarian activities that build friends and allies at the regional and ground level...are presently not included in long-term planning and... actually take away funds from a unit's regular operational budget...The Obama administration will expand such programs, regularizing them into the annual budget so that our efforts to aid allies...are sustainable, rather than ad-hoc."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:The Department of Defense (DoD) Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) program, which funds DoD's Humanitarian Assistance Program, the Humanitarian Mine Action Program, and the Foreign Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Program, has been in existence since the 10/06/94 issuance of DoD Directive 2205.2 ("Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA) Provided in Conjunction with Military Operations"). This directive states that "Expenses incurred as a direct result of providing HCA (other than De Minimis HCA) to a foreign country shall be paid out of funds specifically appropriated for such purposes."

Thus, the mechanisms were in place long before the Obama Administration came into power for DoD's inclusion of humanitarian activities in its annual budget submissions.

This promise was not fulfilled because it didn't need to be.
DE-28 The Promise: "... creating a system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget."
When/Where: Obama Campaign Document "A 21st Century Military for America" dated 11/26/07.
Status:To protect U.S. taxpayer funds committed for nonmilitary development and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan from fraud, waste and abuse, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was opened under the Bush Administration in CY2008, not under President Obama.

As of 04/15/16, the SIGAR had 288 open investigations:
- 105 Procurement/Contract Fraud
- 61 Public Corruption/Bribery
- 30 Theft of Property and Services
- 69 Miscellaneous Criminal Activity

In its 07/30/16 quarterly report to Congress, SIGAR reported that since its inception in 2008, "...SIGAR investigations had resulted in a cumulative total of 141 criminal charges, 103 convictions, and 91 sentencings. Criminal fines, restitutions, forfeitures, civil settlement recoveries, and U.S. government cost savings total $951 million."

SIGAR's oversight mission is supplemented by independent investigation and audit efforts by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the USAID Office of the Inspector General.

The oversight system instituted by President Obama's predecessor continued with stellar results during President Obama's two terms in office. But President Obama cannot be credited with "creating" that system.

This promise was not fulfilled.