WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department announced the top-line budget for its secretive intelligence programs on Tuesday.
The total Military Intelligence Program, or MIP, budget for fiscal 2018, including the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, was $22.1 billion. This is above the $20.7 billion the Pentagon requested for FY18 and the $21.2 billion requested for FY19.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, MIP funds “defense intelligence activities intended to support operational and tactical level intelligence priorities supporting defense operations." Among other uses, these dollars can be spent to facilitate the dissemination of information that relates to a foreign country or political group, and covert or clandestine activities against political and military groups or individuals.
CRS also listed MIP funding going to U.S. Special Operations Command as it pursues “several current acquisition efforts focused on outfitting aircraft — both manned and unmanned, fixed and rotary wing — with advanced ISR and data storage capabilities that will work in multiple environments.”
In the early part of the decade, the MIP dropped from a high of $27 billion in FY10, hitting its low point in FY15 at $16.6 billion, according to numbers maintained by the analytics group Avascent.
Fiscal 2018′s $22.1 billion appropriation is the most MIP has been granted since fiscal 2012.
This funding is separate from the National Intelligence Program, or NIP, which funds both defense and nondefense intelligence programs. In FY18, NIP was appropriated $57.7 billion. According to CRS numbers, this is the most money the program has ever been given. The program’s previous peak was in FY11, when it was given $54.6 billion. The government has requested $59.9 billion for FY19.
On the defense side, some of the programs NIP supports include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program, the National Reconnaissance Program, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s General Defense Intelligence Program.
On the nondefense side, these dollars fund CIA human intelligence and open-source intelligence programs, Department of Energy counterintelligence operations against nuclear-related terrorist activities, and Department of Homeland Security analysts and collection activities to combat the smuggling of weapons and drugs.
In total, intelligence programs were appropriated $78.4 billion in FY18, accounting for approximately 11 percent of the total defense budget.
Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.