The Pentagon Budget is Going Down. Sort of.

Last week Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered up a preview of the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request. The request for FY2013 is projected at $525 billion for the Pentagon’s annual “base” budget, not including war costs and the nuclear weapons-related activities of the Department of Energy.

Adjusted for inflation this is a roughly 3 percent decrease from current levels. According to Department of Defense (DoD) projections, the Pentagon’s base budget will drop $28 billion between FY2010 and FY2013, after inflation. That’s a 5 percent decrease over seven years. Meanwhile, the Pentagon hopes to achieve a total of $487 billion in savings over the next decade.

It sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t. For example, based on DoD’s calculations, they need to cut $259 billion over the next five years on their way to that $487 billion in savings over a decade. During that period the Pentagon will still spend over $2.7 trillion – closer to $3 trillion when you adjust for inflation.

And these cuts, even when added to further reductions that may occur under sequestration – the across-the-board spending cuts required by last summer’s Budget Control Act – will not erase the 48 percent growth in military spending that has occurred over the last decade.