Pentagon Seeks To Classify Future Year Defense Spending Plans

The Pentagon has requested a number of legislative changes this year, in addition to the FYDP classification attempt.

Among the notable requests are one that would remove the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to “notify the Senate and House Armed Services Committees whenever the Secretary establishes or modifies an end-of-quarter strength level;” requested 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 to rename the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict as the ASD for “Special Operations and Irregular Warfare.”

Pentagon seeks to classify future year defense spending plans

Defense News · by Aaron Mehta · March 30, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has asked Congress to allow the department to classify its future year defense program (FYDP) spending projections, new documents have revealed.

The FYDP numbers, which project five years into the future, are essential information for the public to both see where DoD expects to invest in the future, and to hold the department accountable when those spending plans change.

Information on the request was published Monday by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood wrote that the proposal would “make it even harder for Congress and the public to refocus and reconstruct the defense budget.”

In its request to Congress, the Pentagon wrote that an unclassified FYDP “might inadvertently reveal sensitive information,” despite the fact the numbers have been unclassified since 1989.

“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,” the department wrote.

The Pentagon added that there is a commercial concern with the FYDP providing too much information to industry.

“The Department is also concerned about the potential harm to its interactions with commercial interests by release of FYDP information prior to the budget year. Exposing resources allocated to future acquisition plans may encourage bids and other development activities not beneficial to the Government,” the proposal reads.

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.”

Earlier this year, the number two uniformed officer in the Pentagon railed against the department’s tendency towards overclassification, calling it “Unbelievably ridiculous.”

The Pentagon has requested a number of legislative changes this year, in addition to the FYDP classification attempt.

Among the notable requests are one that would remove the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to “notify the Senate and House Armed Services Committees whenever the Secretary establishes or modifies an end-of-quarter strength level;” requested 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 to rename the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict as the ASD for “Special Operations and Irregular Warfare.”

Defense News · by Aaron Mehta · March 30, 2020

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