Defense

June 14, 2012

DOD leaders strongly urge Congress to preserve budget request

by Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee on the fiscal year 2013 budget in Washington, D.C., June 13, 2012.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta cautioned Congress June 13 against dismantling the strategic framework that supports the 2013 defense budget request.

Testifying along with Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, the secretary said some changes to the request could undermine the careful balance department leaders built into military spending projections.

“Some of the [congressional] committees have made changes with regard to our recommendations that we’re concerned about,” Panetta said.

He listed three areas DOD leaders have targeted for cuts, and which some members of Congress have challenged during defense budget consideration.

“Some of the bills seek to reverse the decisions to eliminate aging and lower-priority ships and aircraft,” the secretary noted. “My concern is that if these decisions are totally reversed, then I’ve got to find money somewhere to maintain this old stuff.”

Keeping outdated equipment in service would rob needed funds from other areas, he said. That, he added, would lead to what he has long called a “hollow force” – a military that is not trained, manned or equipped to meet current and future threats.

“We’ve got to be able to retire what is aged and what we can achieve some savings on,” Panetta said.

Some in Congress have also objected to “the measured and gradual reductions in end strength that we’ve proposed for the Army and the Marine Corps,” he added. Panetta noted that under current plans, DOD will reduce the active Army from roughly 560,000 to 490,000, while the Marine Corps will downsize from 202,000 to 182,000 over five years.

“Again, if I have a large force and I don’t have the money to maintain that large force, I’m going to end up hollowing it out, because I can’t provide the training [and] I can’t provide the equipment,” the secretary said. “So that’s why, if we’re going to reduce the force, then I’ve got to be able to do it in a responsible way.”

The third spending area he discussed involves military compensation and health care. The budget request includes some additional fees for retiree health care, and limits active-duty pay raises after 2013. Panetta and Dempsey both emphasized that the department does not plan to cut pay, but that compensation cost growth must be controlled to meet budget constraints.

“If I suddenly wind up with no reductions in that area, I’ve got to reach someplace to find the money to maintain those programs – every low-priority program or overhead cost that is retained will have to be offset by cuts in higher-priority investments in order to comply with the Budget Control Act,” he said.

Panetta noted that act, which mandated the defense spending cuts reflected in the fiscal year 2013 request, also holds a more dire threat to military spending: sequestration. That provision will trigger another $500 billion across-the-board cut in defense spending over the next decade if Congress doesn’t identify an equivalent level of spending cuts by January.

“Obviously, this is a great concern,” he said, calling sequestration a “meat-ax approach.”

“It would guarantee that we hollow out our force and inflict severe damage on our national defense,” the secretary asserted.

Dempsey also spoke about the damage changes to defense spending plans could cause.

The strategy-based budget request, the chairman said, “ensures we retain our conventional overmatch while divesting capabilities not required in the active force – or at all.”

The spending plan reflects choices that maintain a needed balance among force structure, modernization, readiness, pay and benefits, he added.

“Different choices will produce a different balance,” the chairman cautioned. “So before giving us weapons we don’t need or giving up on reforms that we do need, I’d only ask you to make sure it’s the right choice, not for our armed forces but for our nation.”

“Sequestration is absolutely certain to upend this balance,” he continued. “It would lead to further end-strength reductions, the potential cancellation of major weapons systems and the disruption of global operations.”

Dempsey said slashing another half-trillion dollars from defense funding over the next 10 years under sequestration would transform U.S. forces “from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries. That transformation would, in turn, change the nation’s deterrent stance and potentially increase the likelihood of conflict, the chairman said.

The general noted that because the law allows defense leaders to cut spending in only certain areas, only three broad areas would be available to service chiefs faced with sequestration: training, maintenance and modernization.

“That’s it. There’s no magic in the budget at that point,” Dempsey said. “And those three accounts will be subjected to all of the cuts mandated by sequestration.”

Panetta appealed to the senators to take action to avert a “potential disaster” by preserving the strategy-based defense spending plan submitted in February.

“I know the members of this committee are committed to working together to stop sequester, and I want you to know that we are prepared to work with you to try to do what is necessary to avoid that crisis,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>