Secretary, Chairman Offer Glimpse into Budget Strategy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2011 — Troop loca­tions, ben­e­fits, future equip­ment and the role of reserve com­po­nent forces are under scruti­ny as mil­i­tary ser­vices pre­pare to trim spend­ing and reshape for future mis­sions, the Defense Department’s senior lead­ers told Con­gress mem­bers here today.

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, field­ed ques­tions on all those top­ics as they tes­ti­fied before the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

DOD offi­cials and ser­vice chiefs are review­ing all defense pro­grams seek­ing a strate­gic approach to the $450 bil­lion-plus cuts the defense bud­get will see over the next 10 years, Panet­ta said.

The sec­re­tary empha­sized no cuts have yet been iden­ti­fied, but offered an exam­ple of the strat­e­gy that will dri­ve them.

“If we decide that we’ve got to main­tain our force struc­ture pres­ence in the Pacif­ic in order to deal with Chi­na and China’s expand­ing role in that part of the world … and if we decide that the Mid­dle East is also a very impor­tant area where we have to main­tain a pres­ence as well, then just by virtue of the num­bers that we’re deal­ing with, we will prob­a­bly have to reduce our pres­ence else­where,” Panet­ta said. “Per­haps in Latin Amer­i­ca … [or] Africa.”

The mil­i­tary pres­ence in Africa rep­re­sents a part­nered approach to fight­ing ter­ror­ists, Dempsey explained.

While vio­lent extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions or ter­ror­ists are syn­di­cat­ed, decen­tral­ized and glob­al­ly net­worked, the chair­man said, there are places where they “sit.”

“One of the places they sit is Pak­istan. One of the places they sit, or sat, is Afghanistan. One of the places they sit is the African con­ti­nent,” he said. “And so our pres­ence on the African con­ti­nent is part of our net­work of build­ing part­ners, of gain­ing intel­li­gence. And then when tar­get­ing … reach­es the lev­el of refine­ment, we can act on it.”

Panet­ta respond­ed to con­gres­sion­al ques­tions on pos­si­ble changes to the mil­i­tary retire­ment sys­tem with a promise to safe­guard the ben­e­fits of those now serv­ing.

The sec­re­tary acknowl­edged that retire­ment may take a dif­fer­ent form in the future, but added, “We made a promise to peo­ple who are on duty that we’re going to pro­vide a cer­tain lev­el of retire­ment. We’re not going to back away from that.”

Those now serv­ing have deployed “time and time again … and we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them,” Panet­ta said.

Dempsey said while mil­i­tary retire­ment is like­ly to change, he rejects the view that it’s an extrav­a­gant ben­e­fit.

Ser­vice mem­bers who stay in uni­form for 20 years or more put them­selves in harm’s way, may move 10 or 15 times, fre­quent­ly can’t buy a house, and often have spous­es who can­not find employ­ment “because we tell them to go where the nation needs them,” Dempsey said.

“That retire­ment pro­gram needs to be fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent than any­thing you find in the civil­ian sec­tor, in my view,” he added.

Both men said in response to ques­tions that they sup­port the F‑35B, a short-take­off, ver­ti­cal-lift, radar-evad­ing, super­son­ic mul­ti-role fight­er air­craft now in test­ing.

“This is the fifth-gen­er­a­tion fight­er,” the sec­re­tary said. “It’s some­thing we absolute­ly need. It’s a remark­able plane, and it real­ly does the job well.”

Dempsey said he sup­ports a fifth-gen­er­a­tion fight­er “with­out caveat.”

“I am con­cerned about the three vari­ants and whether, as we go for­ward in this fis­cal envi­ron­ment, whether we can afford all three,” he added. “That’s some­thing we have to keep an eye on. Three vari­ants … cre­ates some fis­cal chal­lenges for us.”

Both men also agreed that reserve com­po­nent forces have a vital role in the future force.

Nation­al Guard and Reserve troops have per­formed “in an out­stand­ing fash­ion” in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Panet­ta said.

“They’ve got­ten bat­tle expe­ri­ence. They’re bet­ter; they’re more capa­ble; they’re more expe­ri­enced,” he said. “I don’t want to lose that.”

The sec­re­tary added that reserve com­po­nent forces act as a link between the mil­i­tary and com­mu­ni­ties through­out the nation.

“[That] is some­thing that I want to assure you we are not only going to main­tain, but strength­en,” he said.

The reserve com­po­nent brings need­ed flex­i­bil­i­ty to mil­i­tary struc­ture and con­tin­gency plan­ning, the chair­man added.

“As we devel­op this strat­e­gy, we might find things that we decide we don’t need imme­di­ate­ly. They can be placed into the reserve com­po­nent,” Dempsey said. “And things that were in the reserve com­po­nent that we now real­ize we need imme­di­ate­ly, we might migrate them into the active.”

A respon­sive indus­tri­al base also is essen­tial to strong nation­al defense, Panet­ta said.

“If we have to mobi­lize quick­ly, if we have to weaponize quick­ly, I’ve got to have that indus­tri­al base in place,” he said. “And if we crip­ple that, we will crip­ple our nation­al defense.”

Panet­ta said he antic­i­pates brief­ing Con­gress ear­ly in 2012 about pro­posed defense cuts now under strate­gic review.

“This isn’t just num­bers-dri­ven,” the sec­re­tary said. “It’s not bud­get-dri­ven. It’s dri­ven by a strat­e­gy that we can shape, that tells us … what kind of force we need.”

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →