Defense

December 19, 2012

‘Fiscal Cliff’ threatens defense strategy, Panetta says

The year-old defense strategy Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta helped put in place last January faces two major risks, he said Dec. 18: stress on the force, and a political system “that is depriving the department of the budget certainty we need … to plan for the future.”

Speaking at the National Press Club here, the secretary noted Defense Department and service leaders have advanced the new strategy significantly over the past year. Panetta reminded the audience it rests on five elements:

 

  • A smaller, leaner but agile and technologically capable force;
  • Maintaining military presence and force-projection capability in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific;
  • Building partnerships and partner capacity around the world through innovative rotational deployments;
  • Remaining capable of confronting and defeating any adversary; and
  • Protecting and prioritizing key investments in technology and new capabilities.

 

“The goal of our new defense strategy is to help shape the force of the 21st century,” the secretary said, “to … adapt our forces and operating concepts so that we are better prepared for an unpredictable and dangerous future, even in an era of constrained resources.”

Panetta said the strategy has taken root over 2012, even as the department ended combat operations in Iraq, supported the NATO-led mission in Libya and transitioned more of Afghanistan to Afghan-led security efforts.

But 2012’s multiple missions offer a clue to the first risk Panetta identified. As he noted, the nation’s military force “is still operating at a very high tempo more than 11 years after September 11th.”

For example, the U.S. military remains “at war in Afghanistan,” the secretary said, adding that U.S. forces “have been on a crisis posture in the Middle East and North Africa for the past year. And we will continue to maintain a strong presence in that region even as we rebalance to the Asia Pacific area.”

DOD’s “outstanding men and women in uniform,” the secretary said, “are the foundation of everything we do. … We need to ensure that service members and their families have the support that they have earned in areas like health and education and employment … so that they can … go back home and re-establish their ties to their communities.”

The second risk, which looms 15 days away, is that the sequestration mechanism built into the Budget Control Act will take effect. If Congress and the president don’t agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit before Jan. 2, 2013, sequestration will trigger across-the-board cuts in federal spending, including an additional $500 billion cut in defense.

“For more than a year, this department has been operating under the shadow of sequestration,” Panetta said. “… Because of political gridlock, this department still faces the possibility of another round of across-the-board cuts … that will inflict lasting damage on our national defense and hurt the very men and women who protect this country.”

The secretary noted that he is asked about sequestration every time he speaks to troops. “It is unacceptable to me that men and women who put their lives on the line every day in distant lands have to worry about whether those here in Washington can effectively support them,” he added.

Panetta said the Defense Department is “down to the wire now,” and that Congress must act to avoid “the fiscal disaster that awaits us.”

Failure to reach a bipartisan consensus on deficit reduction and future defense spending, the secretary warned, “will weaken this nation in the minds of our allies, our partners, and our potential adversaries and undermine the work and the sacrifices that our troops are making every single day.”

 




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


 
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Smart-mortar will help Soldiers more effectively hit targets

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez Nick Baldwin and Evan Young, researchers with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Pennsylvania, discuss the 120mm Guided Enhanced Fragmentation Mortar ...
 
 

Air Force assigns new chief scientist

The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology adviser to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21. Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role. “I...
 
 

TSgt promotion release delayed to allow system validation

Technical sergeant promotion selection results, originally scheduled for release May 28, will be delayed to enable the Air Force to continue to validate extensive system changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System, officials announced. The 15E6 technical sergeant promotion cycle is the first to incorporate recent changes in the enlisted evaluation and promotion system. Recent...
 

 

Freedom completes rough water trials

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom completed Seakeeping and Structural Loads Trials, commonly referred to as Rough Water Trials in late March the Navy reported May 21. The U.S. Navy must demonstrate the seaworthiness and structural integrity of each new ship class. One of the primary ways the Navy verifies these qualities is through a...
 
 

Air Force releases Strategic Master Plan

The Air Force officially released the Strategic Master Plan May 21, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training and equipping of the force over the coming decades. The SMP builds on the strategic imperatives and vectors described in the capstone document, America’s Air Force: A Call...
 
 

HYT extension possible for SrA-MSgt in 35 career fields

Eligible senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in 35 Air Force specialties will be able to apply for a high year of tenure extension and, if approved, will be able to extend between 12 and 24 months past their current HYT. The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to...
 




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>