The $534 base operating budget for fiscal 2010 represents a 4 percent, or $20 billion, increase from the previous fiscal year, while $130 billion is the Pentagon’s “best estimate” fixed for war costs, he said.
Gates added that the $75.5 billion left from the fiscal 2009 war cost is enough for the Pentagon to continue supporting efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan through the year.
The top-line budget figure already is being analyzed to determine next year’s spending details, Gates said. The process includes efforts to realize cost efficiencies, reassess all weapons programs, and rebalance investments between current and future capabilities.
Gates didn’t address specific programs, but said he recognizes the rising personnel costs, which consume the majority of the department’s budget. The percentage of the defense budget that goes to health care is increasing at what he called “almost an alarming rate in terms of the future.”
“We will be making tough choices to ensure that this department’s budget priorities best position our military to deal with the most pressing threats and security challenges facing America today and tomorrow,” he said.