Lynn: Defense Budget Plans Strike ‘Right Balance’

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 — The Defense Department’s plans to cut $78 bil­lion from its bud­get over five years and find more than $100 bil­lion in sav­ings for rein­vest­ment was a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort and a rea­son­able bal­ance between mil­i­tary needs and bud­get con­straints, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said today.

“Some will argue that our pro­pos­als cut defense too much, oth­ers will argue it does­n’t cut enough,” Lynn told the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “We believe it strikes the right bal­ance for these dif­fi­cult times.”

Lynn was accom­pa­nied by the vice chiefs of each of the ser­vices, each of whom agreed that the bud­get plans were a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort that includ­ed ser­vice lead­ers.

“We were part of that process and agreed with the deci­sions that have been made,” Gen. Peter Chiarel­li, Army vice chief of staff, said.

Act­ing on Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ direc­tive, the ser­vices already have found more than $100 bil­lion in sav­ings. They expect to redi­rect those sav­ings to spend $70 bil­lion on improved weapon­ry and tech­ni­cal capa­bil­i­ties and $28 bil­lion on high­er-than-expect­ed oper­at­ing expens­es in the next five years, Lynn said.

The Army will real­ize sav­ings part­ly from ter­mi­nat­ing its SLAM-RAM — Stand­off Land Attack Mis­sile and Rolling Air­frame Mis­sile – pro­grams, as well as its non­line-of-sight air mis­siles. With the sav­ings, the Army will invest more heav­i­ly in Abrams tanks, Bradley fight­ing vehi­cles and Stryk­er wheeled vehi­cles, Lynn said.

The sav­ings will allow the Navy to buy six more ships, includ­ing a destroy­er, he said.

Gates made tough deci­sions, Lynn said, in ter­mi­nat­ing pro­grams such as a new pres­i­den­tial heli­copter, the F‑22 fight­er jet, the Future Com­bat Sys­tem and the Expe­di­tionary Fight­ing Vehi­cle. “The depart­ment needs to make hard deci­sions ear­ly on [in pro­cure­ment], and we are endeav­or­ing to do that,” he said. “We’ve often bal­anced in favor of per­for­mance, but then the bud­get and the sched­ule suf­fers. We’re try­ing to bal­ance bet­ter.”

Quot­ing Gates’ ear­li­er state­ments, Lynn said the bud­get plans rep­re­sent “rea­son­able, respon­si­ble, and sus­tain­able defense spend­ing for the next five years.”

The bud­get cuts $78 bil­lion from the department’s top line over five years, giv­ing it a $553 bil­lion base­line bud­get – a mod­est increase – for fis­cal 2012, Lynn said. The cut was made in keep­ing with Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion efforts to low­er the deficit, he said.

“The strength of our nation­al defense depends on a strong econ­o­my as well,” Lynn said.

The cuts will mean freez­ing most civil­ian per­son­nel hir­ing through 2013, and cut­ting the department’s con­trac­tor work force by 10 per­cent for three years, Lynn said.

The depart­ment also will seek sav­ings through its TRICARE med­ical sys­tem, for which costs have near­ly dou­bled in 10 years, he said. The bud­get would lift TRICARE enroll­ment fees – which have remained unchanged since the pro­gram began 15 years ago — for work­ing-age mil­i­tary retirees, stop sub­si­dies to non­mil­i­tary hos­pi­tals, and adjust phar­ma­cy co-pay­ments, he said.

Oth­er stream­lin­ing mea­sures include clos­ing U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand and merg­ing its essen­tial func­tions into oth­er areas, elim­i­nat­ing the Busi­ness Trans­for­ma­tion Agency, and doing away with the posi­tion of assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for net­work and infor­ma­tion inte­gra­tion, Lynn said.

Force struc­ture will grow 2 to 3 per­cent for fis­cal 2012, then decline to the point of no growth in fis­cal 2015 and 2016, the deputy sec­re­tary said.

Under the plan, the Army would lose 27,000 posi­tions in end strength, and the Marine Corps would lose 15,000 to 20,000. Those reduc­tions would not begin until after U.S. troops are sched­uled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, Lynn said, and still would leave end strength high­er than it was when Gates took office in Decem­ber 2006, he said.

Even with the cuts, when the Nation­al Guard and Reserve are fac­tored in, the Army will have 47,000 more sol­diers in 2015 than it had in 2006, Chiarel­li said.

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

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