Since 1989, the Pentagon has been required by law to annually submit to Congress an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) database, which details estimates of defense spending over the next five years.
However, the department recently submitted a request to Congress which would rescind that requirement and instead classify the document delivered to the lawmaking body.
“The Department is concerned that attempting publication of unclassified FYDP data might inadvertently reveal sensitive information,” the Pentagon said in its March 6 request, which was made public by the Federation of American Scientists’ blog on Monday.
The Pentagon argued that the release of the data would allow global adversaries to “derive sensitive information by compilation about the Department’s weapons development, force structure, and strategic plans.”
While the Pentagon claims that it is attempting to keep government secrets out of the hands of enemies such as China, Center for Strategic and International Studies budget analyst Seamus Daniels expressed via social media that the proposal represents a “serious step backwards in transparency” to the public.
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 https://t.co/IbNvmlZsO4— Seamus Daniels (@SeamusDaniels) March 30, 2020
This request from the Department of Defense comes shortly after US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper classified Russia and China as countries that have both “violated the sovereignty of their neighbors, and routinely used coercive strategies against smaller states to gain strategic advantages.”
Speaking at the Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies last month, Esper claimed that China had been engaging in the theft of intellectual property and is attempting to “control the economic and security decisions” of other countries with its Belt and Road trade investments.
“Meanwhile, Moscow has turned to hybrid warfare as a means to expand regional influence at the expense of law-abiding nations while also breaking treaty obligations and engaging in malicious cyber operations," he added.