Friday, October 28, 2011

Military Is Said to Make Progress in Modernizing

As concerns grow at the Pentagon over likely budget cuts, a new report contends that the military has already managed to modernize much of its equipment through $1 trillion in arms purchases over the past decade.

The report, by the Stimson Center, a nonprofit research group in Washington, will be released Friday and provides the most detailed compilation of how each of the services has upgraded its weapons since 2001.

Cuts in military spending are at the center of the deficit-reduction debate. Pentagon officials have warned that large reductions could keep them from replacing equipment damaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and from modernizing other planes, ships and tanks. But in analyzing the contracting records, the Stimson researchers concluded that the services had updated more of their existing equipment and bought more substantial quantities of new systems than they had anticipated.

In all, the report said, 10 of the Pentagon’s 14 most expensive weapons programs had received at least 88 percent of the financing that they were projected to need. “I was surprised at how much they had already done,” said R. Russell Rumbaugh, the main author of the report, who previously worked on military issues for the Senate Budget Committee.

Mr. Rumbaugh said news reports about the cancellations of several high-tech weapons systems, and the cost of the wars, obscured how much progress the military made in other areas.

Spending on weapons systems more than doubled to $135.8 billion in fiscal 2010, from $62.6 billion in fiscal 2001. The Air Force and the Navy received more of the money than the Army and the Marines, Mr. Rumbaugh said.