CNAS small logo

  • Open the Search Form


  • Congressional Testimony

Research Areas

  • Hard Choices in Defense
  • The Future of Warfare
  • Strengthening Deterrence
  • The Gaming Lab
  • Defense Discussions
  • The China Challenge
  • Regional Alliances and Partnerships
  • The India Opportunity
  • The North Korea Threat
  • Confronting Threats to Democracy
  • NATO and European Security
  • Strengthening Alliances
  • Israel-Hamas War
  • Evolving the Mission–Iraq/Syria/ISIS
  • Iran Futures
  • Constructing Regional Partnerships and Seizing Emerging Opportunities
  • Security Assistance
  • Targeted Sanctions: Russia and Iran
  • Economic Statecraft
  • Energy & Geopolitics
  • Sanctions by the Numbers
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Technology Strategy
  • Critical Digital Infrastructure
  • Biotechnology
  • Enhancing DHS Oversight & Accountability
  • Congress and National Security
  • Renewing the National Security Consensus

Resident Experts

  • All Resident Experts
  • Arona Baigal
  • Vivek Chilukuri
  • Carrie Cordero
  • Lisa Curtis
  • Hannah Dennis
  • Michael Depp
  • Bill Drexel
  • Joshua Fitt
  • Richard Fontaine
  • Noah Greene
  • Hannah Kelley
  • Andrea Kendall-Taylor
  • Emily Kilcrease
  • Katherine L. Kuzminski
  • Nicholas Lokker
  • Jonathan Lord
  • Gibbs McKinley
  • Andrew Metrick
  • Carisa Nietsche
  • Stacie Pettyjohn
  • Paul Scharre
  • Philip Sheers
  • Jacob Stokes
  • Taren Sylvester
  • Jocelyn Trainer
  • Josh Wallin
  • Becca Wasser
  • Caleb Withers
  • Robert O. Work
  • Evan Wright

Adjunct Experts

  • All Adjunct Experts
  • Manpreet Singh Anand
  • Brandon J. Archuleta
  • Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr. (Ret.)
  • Christian Beckner
  • Samuel Bendett
  • Paul Benfield
  • Rachel Brandenburg
  • Dr. Jonathan Brewer
  • Josh Campbell
  • Pablo Chavez
  • Richard Connolly
  • John Costello
  • Richard J. Danzig
  • Anthony DeMartino
  • Jason Dempsey
  • Robin Dickey
  • Billy Fabian
  • Yaya J. Fanusie
  • Ryan Fedasiuk
  • David Feith
  • Edward Fishman
  • Ben FitzGerald
  • Dr. Erik Lin-Greenberg
  • Michael Greenwald
  • Mikhail Grinberg
  • Hamzeh Hadad
  • Hon. Robert F. Hale
  • Heli Hautala
  • Franz-Stefan Gady
  • Dr. Jeannette Gaudry Haynie
  • Jacob Helberg
  • Michelle Holko, PhD, PMP
  • General Mike Holmes, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
  • John Hughes
  • Dr. Kyleanne Hunter
  • LTG Anthony R. "Tony" Ierardi, USA (Ret.)
  • Akira Igata
  • Elsa B. Kania
  • Robert D. Kaplan
  • Suzanne Kianpour
  • Dr. Duyeon Kim
  • Christopher D. Kolenda
  • Margarita "Rita" Konaev
  • Steven Kosiak
  • Dr. Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
  • Thomas Krueger
  • Peter L. Levin
  • Jennifer McArdle
  • Brendan McCord
  • Dr. ED McGrady
  • Jack Midgley
  • J Travis Mosier
  • Dr. Go Myong-Hyun
  • Catherine A. Novelli
  • Dr. John Park
  • Dr. Lynne E. Parker
  • Diem Salmon
  • Jordan Schneider
  • Peter Schroeder
  • Michael Sellitto
  • Vance Serchuk
  • John (Jack) N.T. Shanahan
  • Tom Shugart
  • Daniel Silverberg
  • Sarah Smedley
  • Alexander Sullivan
  • Tobias Switzer
  • Rachel Tecott Metz
  • Alanna C. Torres-Van Antwerp
  • Jim Townsend
  • Richard R. Verma
  • Anthony Vinci
  • Jon B. Wolfsthal
  • Alex Zerden
  • Rachel Ziemba
  • Full-Time Staff
  • Executive Team
  • Board of Directors
  • Board of Advisors
  • Directors Emeriti
  • Distinguished Senior Fellows
  • Adjunct Fellows
  • Senior Military Fellows
  • Joseph S. Nye Interns
  • CNAS Supporters
  • Next Generation National Security Fellows
  • Visiting Fellows
  • Writer in Residence
  • In Memoriam
  • Internships

CNAS Programs

  • The Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Fellowship
  • Robert M. Gates Fellowship
  • 1LT Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., USA Award
  • Joseph S. Nye, Jr. National Security Internship and Mentoring Program
  • The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas
  • Women in National Security
  • Writers in Residence
  • Senior Military Fellows Program
  • Join the CNAS Council
  • CNAS Corporate Partnership Program
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • 2023 CNAS National Security Conference | American Power and Purpose

February 11, 2020

Navigating the Billions

A Beginner’s Guide to the Defense Budget

By: Molly Parrish


If you have never interacted with the defense budget it can be daunting. The process is made up of dozens of acronyms and the data is spread over thousands of pages on various websites. However, with a bit of basic knowledge, the novice budget analyst can navigate the billions of dollars within the defense budget request. This piece intends to serve as a very basic overview of how the defense budget is made, how you can read it, what tools are provided to analyze it, and what happens next.

How It’s Made

The defense budget is one product that comes out of Department of Defense’s (DoD) three primary decision-making processes : the requirements system; the programming, planning, budgeting, and execution (PPBE) system; and the acquisition system. As you can probably guess, the budget comes from the PPBE system. Properly resourcing DoD is not an easy task, as it is allocated the largest percentage of the federal budget. Here’s how it works.

First, the secretary of defense delivers the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) to the military services. This planning guidance is put together based on national strategic documents such as the National Security Strategy or the National Defense Strategy and also the secretary’s personal goals for the department. It tells the military services where and why the secretary wants them to invest more, where he wants them to make cuts, and where he wants to maintain the same plan. Once the services have the DPG in hand, they start writing their Program Objective Memorandums (POMs) . The POMs are documents that include each service’s plans for all of its specific programs (e.g., M1 Abrams tanks), how it plans to allocate funding to that program, and how the plan follows the DPG. Alongside the POMs, the services also write their Budget Estimation Submissions (BESs) , which are the cost estimates of the POMs.

The military services submit their POMs and BESs to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office (CAPE), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and, later with some modification, approval. Once approved, OSD and OMB release a joint document called the Resource Management Decision (RMD) . This document reflects what should be included in the annual defense budget request and is then included in the President’s Budget Request for the whole government. The president is required by law to release a budget request annually.

Good to Know: Future Year’s Defense Program (FYDP)

The Future Year’s Defense Program (FYDP) is the framework with which the Department of Defense plans for the near-term (five years in total). The Department of Defense creates, reviews, and updates the FYDP throughout each PPBE process. The numbers and information released with the defense budget request are a product of the FYDP. The FYDP plans funding, manpower, and the composition of the force. Given the complexity of defense human capital, procurement, and sustainment, it makes sense to plan for costs not only in the upcoming year but also in the years thereafter.

How to Read It

The budget brief.

When the president submits his final budget request to Congress, the DoD’s Comptroller Office releases its budget request materials. These materials include a budget brief presentation, an overview book, the “dash-1s” (explained below), and other relevant budget materials. The DoD Comptroller’s website also includes links to each military service’s respective comptroller website where you can find service-specific budget briefs, overview books, plans, and the very important budget justification books (explained below).

One of the first documents put out by the department is the overall budget brief presentation. Staff from the Comptroller’s office will use this brief to present the reasoning and structure of the budget. If the brief doesn’t provide you with enough detail, you can go to the budget overview, or “highlights” book, which provides more detail and explanation behind the budget structure. The budget brief is complementary to the budget overview book; charts and information found in the budget brief can also be found in the budget overview book. Additionally, each service has its own budget brief and budget overview book on its website that is specific to its roles and missions.

Types of Defense Funding: Base Budget vs. OCO

The Department of Defense generally uses two “buckets” to categorize its funding: base funding and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Base funding is money the department has planned for throughout the budgeting process—think FYDP, or long-term, known costs. Overseas Contingency Operations funding acts as a supplemental emergency fund. The current OCO account has been funding operations overseas in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

The Department of Defense has used supplemental spending throughout history to fund its wars, so it’s not unusual to see this type of funding in the budget. Before 9/11, however, contingency funding that lasted longer than a year was incorporated back into the base budget. For example, in the first year of the Korean War supplemental spending accounted for more than two-thirds of the DoD budget. By the time the Korean war was in its last year the Department of Defense did not use supplemental funding to fund war efforts, but instead included it in base funding.

OCO funding has remained a constant in the Department of Defense’s budget for over 20 years. To make matters more complicated, regular rule-changes and political deals have incentivized including costs only tenuously associated with overseas operations in the OCO budget.

Defense Budget Breakdown

The Defense Department commonly breaks down the budget by appropriation title and by military department. There are five main appropriation titles: Operation and Maintenance (O&M); Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E); Procurement; Military Personnel (MILPERs); and Military Construction (MILCON).

  • O&M is usually the biggest chunk of the budget. It funds the “doing things” part of the department, from training sailors to the upkeep, maintenance, and implementation activity of everything in the department including fighter jets’ flying hours, tanks maintenance, and the Combatant Commands day-to-day work, for example.
  • Procurement is responsible for purchasing new capabilities. For example, the procurement funding is responsible for buying munitions or purchasing drones. It is one of two “investment” titles that are responsible for ensuring our technological military advantage.
  • RDT&E is the second investment title and sometimes referred to just as Research and Development or R&D. This title allows the Department of Defense to innovate by funding research on novel technologies across multiple domains. It also includes funding to upgrade current capabilities.
  • MILPERs is responsible for paying our military by providing our servicemembers with salaries, healthcare, and retirement.
  • MILCON allows the department to repair existing and build new bases, offices, and other necessary sites all across the world.

How to Use It

Justification books.

The budget justification books , otherwise known as j-books, are one of the most important tools available to analyze the defense budget. They are sorted first by military department and then by appropriation titles. The j-books cover seven fiscal years; for example, the FY21 j-books show dollar amounts for FY2019–FY2025.

You can find the following information (and more!) in a justification book:

  • quantity of capability being purchased
  • costs of the program
  • program element (PE) code (identifier code used to organize the FYDP)
  • description of the program
  • capabilities’ contractor
  • program schedule

Along with the justification books, the department releases a set of Excel files and pdfs, commonly referred to as the “dash-1s.” They are called this because of the naming convention for the files; for example, the procurement file is called “P-1.” These excel files include all of the data in the j-books excluding the written description of the program. Each account title (RDT&E, O&M, Procurement, MILCON, MILPERs, etc.) usually has their own separate file. These files can be found on the DoD Comptroller’s website. There are no department specific dash-1s available to the public.

If you have a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel, it won’t take long for you to become a pro at using the dash-1s. You can use Excel’s sort function to organize the files into more manageable and readable sheets. For example, if you want to look at Navy combat aircraft, you can sort first by organization (Navy), and then by budget activity title (combat aircraft), which will show you how much the Navy is spending on combat aircrafts. If you wanted to go even further, you can sort by line item title, which will allow you to choose specific aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Hornet or the F-35C.

The Green Book

DoD releases the National Defense Budget Estimates book a few weeks after the budget release. You may hear budget experts and analysts refer to this book as the “green book.” The cover is green, hence the nickname. Essentially, the green book is a numerical overview and breakdown of the budget request that includes a list of “deflators” that allow you to adjust cost for inflation across multiple fiscal years. In other words, it would be nearly impossible to compare budget requests year to year.

What Happens Next?

Congress plays one of the most important roles in the budget process and it begins after the request has been submitted. The President’s Budget Request is not law, as Congress holds the “power of the purse” and can make any changes it sees fit.

The House Armed Services Committee ( HASC ) and Senate Armed Services Committee ( SASC ) are the two congressional bodies that take the defense budget request and turn it into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA sets the funding limits and creates the laws by which the money appropriated to DoD can be spent. After the department’s budget request is released, both the HASC and SASC will hold congressional posture hearings where senior leadership from the Department and the military services present their budget request. These hearings help the committees shape the content of the NDAA and provide an opportunity for the DoD leadership to justify their budget requests.

After the two committees approve the NDAA, it can be moved to the floor of the House of Representatives. Once the bill passes the House, it heads to the Senate floor. If the House and Senate have differing opinions on the bill, those are typically resolved in a congressional conference . After an identical bill passes in both the Senate and the House, the president will sign the NDAA into law.

While the NDAA is the more publicly known outcome of the President’s Budget Request, it does not fund the Department of Defense. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees must pass a separate appropriations bill to provide the money authorized in the NDAA to the Department of Defense. The main difference is the NDAA creates parameters by which funding can be spent and the appropriations bill puts the funding in the Department’s pocket.

The Department of Defense’s budget materials do not have to be intimidating. By using the tools and concepts above, even a novice budget analyst can begin to meaningfully interact with and make sense of the Defense budget.

More from CNAS

  • April 27, 2023

I. Introduction Chairman Gallagher, Ranking Member Krishnamoorthi, distinguished members of the committee and staff, thank you for inviting me to come today to talk about the ...

By Stacie Pettyjohn, Becca Wasser & Andrew Metrick

  • April 23, 2023

Last week, the Defense Team and Gaming Lab from CNAS conducted a tabletop exercise for the House Select Committee on China examining a hypothetical future invasion of Taiwan b...

  • February 22, 2023

The United States is entering an unprecedented multipolar nuclear era that is far more complex and challenging than that of the Cold War. This report examines potential trigge...

By Stacie Pettyjohn & Hannah Dennis

  • August 27, 2022

Richard Fontaine joins Larry Bernstein on What Happens Next in 6 Minutes Podcast to discuss War Games: China Invades Taiwan. Listen to the full interview from What Happens Ne...

By Richard Fontaine

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia

Get the Latest from CNAS

Sign up for weekly updates and analysis on the most important issues in u.s. national security..

Thanks for subscribing!

There was a problem submitting the form. Please double check your information and try again.

Please see this Guide to Modified Services for Summer 2021

  • Berntsen Library
  • Library Help
  • 7 Circulation
  • 10 Collections
  • 5 Locations
  • 17 Policies

"J FIC" is short for " Juvenile Fiction." The Juvenile Fiction books are arranged on the shelf by the author's last name.

In Library Search, you'll see "Northwestern Juvenile Fiction" in the item record. The call number will begin with the first letter of the author's last name, which tells you where the book is located on the shelf.

what are j books

Juvenile Fiction books are designated on the shelves by "J FIC", and on the spine of the book as "J FICTION".

Related Topics


  1. Letter J Books for Preschool Picture Books

    what are j books

  2. Level J Books List / 7 Books To Read If You Re An Economics Student Top Universities

    what are j books

  3. Letter J Books

    what are j books

  4. Letter J: Booklist

    what are j books

  5. J&J Books and Coffee (@JnJBooksnCoffee)

    what are j books

  6. 20 Books Children Must Read for the Letter J

    what are j books


  1. Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy a Book

    Buying books can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. With so many different options available, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. To help make the decision easier, here are a few things...

  2. How to Buy the Perfect Book for You

    Reading books is a great way to learn, relax, and escape from reality. Whether you’re looking for a new novel to get lost in or a non-fiction book to help you learn something new, there are plenty of options out there. Here’s how to buy the...

  3. Everything You Need to Know Before Buying Books

    Books are an important part of any library, and they can be a great source of knowledge and entertainment. But before you buy books, there are a few things you should consider. Here’s everything you need to know before buying books.

  4. Navigating the Billions

    Justification Books. The budget justification books, otherwise known as j-books, are one of the most important tools available to analyze the

  5. About this Collection

    Justification books are prepared by federal government agencies as part of the federal budget cycle. They are submitted to the House and Senate appropriations

  6. DoD Budget Request

    National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2024 (Green Book)

  7. Justification Book

    ** Includes Division C, Title IX and Division J, Title IV of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260). UNCLASSIFIED. Volume 1 - vii. Page 10

  8. Тайник J-Book, описание, характеристики, цена, фотографии

    Тайник J-Book, Внешние размеры (ВхШхГ): 200x155x90, Вес (кг): 0,5; Тип замка: Ключевой.

  9. Department of Defense

    FY 2021 Enacted (for O&M, Army, O&M, Navy, and O&M, AF): “Includes Division C, Title IX and Division J, Title. IV of the Consolidated

  10. FY 2021 budget

    J-3 Operations and are executed by the Office of the Under Secretary of

  11. DCMA Manual 4301-02, Volume 1 Budget Formulation and Execution

    Budget Justification Books (J-Books.) It is DCMA policy to: a. Develop and submit annual budgets for all appropriations as directed by DoD

  12. MQ-25 to Sealift: Five Navy budget justification book takeaways

    The J-books' projections show a steady stream of funding to purchase four aircraft a year, starting in FY23 and running through FY27. (The

  13. What does "J FIC" mean in the Children's Books section of the Library?

    What does "J FIC" mean in the Children's Books section of the Library? "J FIC" is short for "Juvenile Fiction." The Juvenile Fiction books are

  14. Budget Activity 2

    FY 2021 includes Division C, Title IX and Division J, Title IV of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260). FY 2020 includes Division A