The US Department of Defense asked the Congress to allow it to classify the Future Year Defense Program spending projections, according to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.
The proposal in its entirety can be found here [pdf].
Preparation of the unclassified FYDP, which provides estimates of defense spending for the next five years, has been required by law since 1989 and has become an integral part of the defense budget process.
It essentially stopped being classified when the Cold War officially ended.
“The Department is concerned that attempting publication of unclassified FYDP data might inadvertently reveal sensitive information,” the Pentagon said in its March 6, 2020 proposal.
“With the ready availability of data mining tools and techniques, and the large volume of data on the Department’s operations and resources already available in the public domain, additional unclassified FYDP data, if it were released, potentially allows adversaries to derive sensitive information by compilation about the Department’s weapons development, force structure, and strategic plans.”
Be that as it may, in the view of the Pentagon:
“This proposal would remove the statutory requirement to submit an Unclassified Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) to the Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, the Comptroller General of the United States, and the Congressional Research Service.”
It follows that FYDP data would also not be included in the published DoD budget request.
On top of that, until two years ago, DoD published its legislative proposals to Congress on the website of the DoD General Counsel. It doesn’t anymore.
As part of a broader retreat from public oversight and accountability, the Pentagon today does not make its legislative proposals easily accessible to the public.
So, the proposal was obtained by Secrecy News, through to March 6th, 2020.
Among the notable requests are one that would remove the requirement for the defense secretary to “notify the Senate and House Armed Services Committees whenever the Secretary establishes or modifies an end-of-quarter strength level;” a request for the ability to add an additional 15 general officer billets in the combatant commands and three general officer billets on the Joint Staff, to be filled exclusively by reserve component officers; and a request to rename the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict as the assistant secretary of defense for “Special Operations and Irregular Warfare.”
Seamus Daniels, a budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a tweet that “DoD’s proposal to eliminate the unclassified FYDP severely limits the public’s ability to track how strategy aligns with budgets and how program plans change over time. Serious step backwards in transparency from the department.”
Concerns of the public to the side, this also means that the U.S. either believes that something similar to the Cold War has either begun, or it is about to begin.
This is rather justified, as with the COVID-19 crisis, despite originating in China, both Beijing and Moscow have taken the lead in assisting countries and providing aid, while asking for nothing in return, while Washington has been preoccupied with blaming the “Chinese virus” and attempting to impose unrealistic expectations and measures.
In addition, Saudi Arabia, a traditional US ally is carrying out an all-out oil price war against Russia, which is heavily harming Washington’s interests as well, as WTI crude oil prices dropped under $20 on March 30th.
The US is currently ramping up its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, despite the EU, Russia and China calling for it to stop sanctioning the country which is one of the most afflicted by the spread of COVID-19, but to no avail.
So, it could be that the Pentagon has the foresight of seeing which way the wind is starting to blow.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Pentagon Confirms Over 1,000 COVID-19 Cases Among Military, Orders Bases To Stop Public Reporting
- Despite Massive Budget, US Air Force Mission-Capable Rates Plummet For 6th Consecutive Year
- US Congress Approves Bipartisan Budget Act, Relegating More For Defense Than Everything Else Combined