There are, of course, some complications with looking at these numbers. First, while some line items are conveniently labeled “classified”, others are called by cloak-and-dagger names like the Army’s “Tractor Hip,”—cut in half this year to $16.4 million —and the Navy’s “Chalk Eagle”—a $543 million program that has seen continued growth over the last three years. Because of the nature of these weird titles, we might (and probably are) missing some other covert programs. And experts don’t put it past the DoD to label more secret operations under innocuous titles or hide them in other budget categories like personnel.
One more nerdy note: We’re just looking at the so-called “base budget” of the Pentagon here; it doesn’t include the money for the war on terror, known in mil-speak as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. The Defense Department has set aside $79 billion for OCO for the next fiscal year, the same placeholder amount as this one. But it’s unclear as of now, how much of the money that creatively overcomes budget restraints will go to black budget programs.