We posed that question to several experts, and here's what they had to say.
NAME: Thomas Donnelly
POSITION: Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
WHO WON: Lockheed Martin, who got a funding boost in the budget for its F-35 fighter plane. (Boeing, on the other hand, would see production of the F-18 scaled back, and money for the F-22, in which Boeing has roughly a one-third stake, would be eliminated.) Also, the Obama administration wins for proposing to cut defense spending to below four percent of the GDP. The disorganization of Republicans, "who are now more concerned about fiscal discipline and deficits," has eliminated any "natural opposition to highlight the issue."
WHO LOST: People whose jobs would be slashed in the budget cuts, and congressmen from states like Georgia and Missouri that would be hit particularly hard by those job losses. And the budget doesn't bring uniformly good news to the Obama administration. Why? Because "to the degree that past is prologue," it's "running the political risk of being portrayed as weak on defense."
NAME: Andrew Exum
POSITION: Fellow at the Center for a New American Security
WHO WON: Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35 joint strike fighter plane, which will remain in production. Lockheed Martin's stock was up half a percent today, whereas stocks of other weapons manufacturers like Boeing and SAIC were down. This was "largely because of the budget."
WHO LOST: The defense industry, which "is a loser because this budget is privileging the types of less expensive weapons platforms and skill sets that are required for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the expense of more expensive weapon platforms that are more appropriate for, say, taking on a pure competitor like the former Soviet Union or rising China." U.S. congressmen and women, too, who will see jobs slashed at home because of the discontinuation of weapons like the F-22 jet. "The F-22 is built in 48 different states, so 96 senators have an interest in keeping that weapons system alive." Also, because of priorities placed on certain, new programs, the "dominant strategic culture" of the military loses out. For instance, "Investing in unmanned aircraft [as the budget would] goes against the Air Force's strategic culture."
NAME: Andrew Krepinevich
POSITION: President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
WHO WON: The Navy, which "essentially emerges unscathed. I talked to Gates this morning. According to him, they'll get to keep their eleven carriers through 2040, and [the budget] left the proposed increase in submarine production intact."
WHO LOST: The Air Force, because of the slashed F-22 program. "You look across the board, and you say, ‘The Air Force had a pretty tough day.'" Also, the Army, which was "already in a state of disrepair after the cancellations of the Crusader Artillery System and Comanche helicopter" over the past decade. Under the new budget plan, the Army will see huge cutbacks to FCS (Future Combat Systems), which is "the crown jewel of the Army's modernization program." And, lastly, "programs that continue to be plagued by cost overrun," such as FCS, TSAT (the Transformational Satellite Communications System), and the DDG1000 (a planned Zumwalt-class Naval destroyer). These are all programs that are "coming in substantially over the projected budget."
NAME: Jason Sherman
POSITION: Reporter for InsideDefense.com
WHO WON: The combatant commanders, who are, more than ever, helping to determine what the armed forces need. "What we're seeing in this budget is the growing influence of combatant commanders, particularly General Petraeus and Admiral Eric Olson, on the budget. You see that in the increase in funding for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities ... and you see it in the $500 million that the secretary of defense is putting into the base budget for training and equipping foreign military forces." Also, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who imposed enormous discipline on the Pentagon during the budget process, deserves plaudits. "Gates speaks quietly, but he is all bite. In developing this budget, he forced everyone in the Pentagon to sign a non-disclosure agreement. It's unprecedented that you go up to a guy like General Petraeus with the stack of medals on his chest and the four stars on his shoulder and say, ‘You word is not enough. I want a piece of paper with your name on it, signed, saying you won't discuss this.'"
--Sahil Mahtani, Amanda Silverman, and Alexander Wolf