Gates Will Present President With Cost-cutting Options

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates is “a leader when it comes to fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty” and will pro­vide Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma with options — along with the pros and cons of each — to make addi­tion­al defense cuts, the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for pub­lic affairs said yes­ter­day.

Gates “has made some very hard choic­es and some very inno­v­a­tive deci­sions in doing his effi­cien­cies exer­cise,” Dou­glas B. Wil­son told inter­view­er Vago Mura­di­an on “This Week in Defense News.”

Oba­ma announced last week that he would work with Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to find addi­tion­al cost sav­ings beyond the $400 bil­lion in reduc­tions the depart­ment has made over the past two years.

The goal is an addi­tion­al $400 bil­lion in nation­al secu­ri­ty cuts through 2023, to help real­ize $2 tril­lion in sav­ings as part of a plan to reduce fed­er­al bor­row­ing by $4 tril­lion over the next 12 years.

“We have been giv­en a mis­sion, and the sec­re­tary will under­take it,” Wil­son said.

It’s too ear­ly to deter­mine where exact­ly those cuts will be made, he said, not­ing that Oba­ma called for a review of the nation’s role in the world, along with its mis­sions and respon­si­bil­i­ties.

“That will be the frame­work for this ini­tia­tive,” Wil­son said. “And the sec­re­tary of defense is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the pres­i­dent with the options nec­es­sary and the choic­es and the impli­ca­tions of those choic­es.”

Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said Gates believes that the Defense Depart­ment can­not be exempt from efforts to trim the fed­er­al bud­get.

“How­ev­er, it is impor­tant that any reduc­tion in [defense] fund­ing be shaped by strat­e­gy and pol­i­cy choic­es, and not by a bud­get math exer­cise,” Mor­rell said.

Gates “has been clear that fur­ther sig­nif­i­cant defense cuts can­not be accom­plished with­out reduc­ing forces struc­ture and mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties,” Mor­rell added. “The com­pre­hen­sive review of mis­sions, capa­bil­i­ties and America’s role in the world will iden­ti­fy alter­na­tives for the president’s con­sid­er­a­tion.”

Accom­plish­ing the president’s goal, Mor­rell said, “must be about man­ag­ing risks asso­ci­at­ed with future threats and nation­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges and iden­ti­fy­ing mis­sions that the coun­try is will­ing to forego.”

Oba­ma has acknowl­edged that the Pen­ta­gon has been at the fore­front at elim­i­nat­ing “unneed­ed, duplica­tive and obso­lete pro­grams and admin­is­tra­tive over­head,” Mor­rell said.

The pres­i­dent “wants us to con­tin­ue this effort with the goal of sig­nif­i­cant addi­tion­al sav­ings over the com­ing decade,” Mor­rell added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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