Jeffrey LewisPBD 753: Cutting Missile Defense

Program Budget Decision (PBD) 753 is a 26-page memorandum dated December 23. Marked “For Official Use Only: Unauthorized Release of the Following Program Budget Decision is Prohibited,” the document appeared in the press about two weeks later.

PBD 753 outlines a large reduction in the Defense Budget—$6 billion in 2006 and $30 billion through 2011. The leak caused, as Defense News (subscription only) said, “a furor on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street, and in defense industry boardrooms around the country.” (Although “cuts” merely mean that many programs will simply not grow as fast as planned.)

The document recieved substantial coverage in the mainstream press, including articles in the Washington Post and MSNBC. (The full text of the PBD is available from Navy Times.)

One of the biggest losers in PBD 753 is the Pentagon’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), which will endure a restructuring and a $5 billion cut over the FY 2005-2011 Future Years Defense Program (FYDP).

Missile Defense Programs
(Dollars in Millions)

FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011
-1,000.0 -800.0 -800.0 -800.0 -800.0 -800.0

What gets cut?

Inside Missile Defense (subscription required) speculates that the cuts will come from the Airborne Laser and Kinetic Energy Interceptors (KEI) programs:

Several sources suggested that the agency’s boost-phase intercept efforts were the programs likeliest to be cut back, at least in FY 06. Those programs include the Airborne Laser, which has gone through significant budget turmoil in recent years, and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program, recently targeted for cuts by Congress.

That sounds right to me, particularly since Congress ordered MDA to come up with answers (by February 1) to thorny questions like:

  • How KEI will enhance ballistic missile defense system capabilities;
  • The role KEI may play in European missile defense and how that role relates to the fielding of additional GBIs; and
  • A comparison of anticipated sea-based KEI capabilities with other sea-based missile defense options.

Cuts to the KEI program would imperil both the Missile Defense Agency’s Space-Based Test Bed and the proposed third missile defense interceptor site in Europe, which has been used to justify the KEI effort.

PDB 753 has a whole bunch of other space-related stuff, too. But that is for another post.