Defense

March 29, 2013

Budget crisis threatens severe readiness impact

Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

The Pentagon comptroller painted a sobering picture of the Defense Departmentís fiscal landscape March 28, telling members of the financial community that unless sequestration is de-triggered soon, military readiness will suffer deeply.

The continuing resolution that President Barack Obama signed into law yesterday provides slight relief in authorizing the Defense Department to shift funds between certain accounts, Undersecretary of Defense Robert F. Hale told the American Society of Comptrollers and the Association of Government Accountants in a webcast presentation.

The resolution, which provides DOD funding through September, allows the department to move more than $10 billion of its fiscal 2013 appropriation to operations and maintenance accounts. It also loosened restrictions on new weapons programs, weapons purchases and military construction projects.

ìBut it did not solve all our problemsî in funding department operations through the rest of the fiscal year, particularly in light of sequestration, Hale said.

The mandatory budget cuts that began taking effect March 1 also are having an impact across the military, he said, with deeper ones to come next month.

Anticipating fiscal challenges through the rest of fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30, the department took near-term actions to limit the impact, Hale said. It imposed civilian hiring freezes in all but mission-critical jobs, laid off temporary and term employees, cut back sharply on travel and conferences and ìessentially stopped all facilities maintenance at bases,î he said.

We are in triage mode in terms of getting through this year, Hale added. ìBut these near-term actions wonít solve the problems of sequestration.

Throughout the budget planning process, DOD has taken pains to support wartime operations, he said. ìYou canít leave troops in Afghanistan without the funds needed to protect themselves and wind down the war responsibility,î Hale said.

But with wartime costs far higher than anticipated two years ago, Hale said, the only way to offset them has been through deeper cuts in the base part of the budget that pays for other day-to-day activities.
ìWhen you add up all these effects, instead of an 8 percent cut, you are talking 15 to 20 percent for the remaining part of fiscal year 2013, he said. The percentage of these cuts varies by service, with the Army taking the deepest ones, he added.

Sequestration will begin cutting even more deeply next month, with Hale projecting ìa real crisisî in the operations and maintenance budget, with the potential for ìseverely adverse effects on our military readiness.

ìI think you will, unfortunately, see a number of Air Force squadrons stand down training entirely for their pilots,î he said, noting that restoring lapsed flying certifications will take time and money. ìYou will see significant training cutbacks in the Army and other services. You will see maintenance cutbacks as we stop maintaining our weapons systems.

These actions would directly affect readiness — a real concern, Hale said, particularly if military forces are called on to confront another contingency later this year. ìWe wonít have forces that are adequately ready and will either have to make the choice to deploy with less-trained forces or take extra time to get them ready,î he said.

This yearís fiscal crisis will spill into fiscal 2014, which DOD will start in ìa state of damaged readiness,î Hale said.

In addition to wartime operations, DOD will continue to prioritize other top-priority missions, including wounded warrior programs and nuclear deterrence efforts, to ensure they are fully funded, he said.

Meanwhile, planners will strive to limit cuts that affect forward-deployed forces, particularly in South Korea and other high-threat areas, and the availability of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in critical theaters.

The budget also will protect family programs to the greatest extent possible, although Hale acknowledged that it wonít be across the board. The DOD Education Activity, for example, wonít be exempt from civilian furloughs, but DOD will limit the number of furlough days to ensure students meet the minimum required school days to qualify for a credible year, he said.

Departmentwide civilian furloughs, as unsavory as they may be, are essential in dealing with the formidable fiscal 2013 budget challenges, Hale said. Without them, DOD would have to take even deeper training and maintenance cuts, he explained.

Furloughs will be instituted consistently and fairly across the department, Hale said, with ìsome very limited exceptionsî for civilians serving in the combat zone or in jobs that directly impact life and property.

Hale expressed hope that Congress and the president can reach a deal that ends sequestration and lifts at least part of the challenge of working through ìvery difficult times.




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


 
 

 

Headlines April 20, 2015

News: Sale of U.S. arms fuels the wars of Arab states - As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. U.S. spending $1 billion to reassure European allies - From Army rotations...
 
 

News Briefs April 20, 2015

Last two Raiders give congressional medal to Ohio museum The last two ìDoolittle Tokyo Raidersî have presented their Congressional Gold Medal for permanent display at a museum in southwest Ohio. The medal arrived at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton in a ceremonial B-25 bomber flight. The medal was awarded by...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Space Solar Power Initiative established by Northrop Grumman, Caltech

Northrop Grumman photograph Northrop Grumman’s Joseph Ensor (left) and Caltech’s Ares Rosakis (right) shake hands as part of the recent SSPI commemoration event held at the California Institute of Technology, Pasade...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton UAS conducts first flight with search radar

Navy photograph The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft takes off from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., April 16, to conduct its first flight from the naval base. The aircraft began sensor testing on April 18 and flew with its...
 
 

UTC introduces active side-sticks to large commercial aviation

UTC Aerospace Systems is introducing the world’s first active side-stick controller for large commercial aircraft. UTC Aerospace Systems is a unit of United Technologies Corp. UTC Aerospace Systems’ Actuation & Propeller business unit is supplying the active side-sticks for the cockpit of the new Irkut MC-21 single aisle aircraft. The MC-21 family of aircraft will...
 
 

Boeing presents flight test 787 Dreamliner to air, space museum

Boeing, elected and community leaders joined together April 17 to celebrate the permanent display of one of the original 787-8 Dreamliner flight test airplanes at the Pima Air & Space Museum. “Boeing has a strong presence in Arizona and is proud to share this important achievement in aviation history with the community, our employees and...
 




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>