USA — Defense Officials Testify On Cost-saving Measures

WASHINGTON — Senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cials here today detailed the department’s efforts to redi­rect $100 bil­lion in defense spend­ing over the next five years.

“This effort is not just about the bud­get, it is also about oper­a­tional agili­ty,” Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said. “We need to ensure the depart­ment is oper­at­ing as effi­cient­ly and effec­tive­ly as possible.” 

Lynn, along with Ash­ton B. Carter, under­sec­re­tary of defense for acqui­si­tion, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tes­ti­fied before the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on the effi­cien­cies ini­tia­tives out­lined Sept. 14. 

The guid­ance expand­ed cost-sav­ing mea­sures Gates man­dat­ed June 28, and out­lined 23 prin­ci­pal actions orga­nized in five major areas: 

— Tar­get afford­abil­i­ty and con­trol cost growth;
— Incen­tivize pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and inno­va­tion in indus­try;
— Pro­mote real com­pe­ti­tion;
— Improve trade­craft in ser­vices acqui­si­tion;
— Reduce non­pro­duc­tive process­es and bureau­cra­cy.
As the depart­ment projects low­er future bud­get increas­es than those over the past decade, it must fun­da­men­tal­ly change the way it does busi­ness, Lynn said. 

“To sus­tain the cur­rent mil­i­tary force struc­ture, which we must do giv­en the secu­ri­ty chal­lenges this coun­try faces, requires the equiv­a­lent of real bud­get growth of 2 to 3 per­cent,” Lynn said. “The over­all defense bud­get, how­ev­er, is pro­ject­ed to rise in real terms by about 1 percent.” 

Bridg­ing the gap, he said, requires reduc­ing the “tail” of mas­sive over­head costs and struc­tures, and redi­rect­ing those dol­lars to the “tooth” of fight­ing forces and mod­ern­iza­tion accounts. 

The depart­ment will achieve that resource shift, Lynn said, by reduc­ing exec­u­tive and flag offi­cer bil­lets and their staffs, shed­ding over­lap­ping com­mands and orga­ni­za­tions, and trim­ming the role and cost of sup­port contractors. 

In a four-track approach, Lynn said, Gates direct­ed that the ser­vices iden­ti­fy $100 bil­lion in sav­ings over five years to invest in high-pri­or­i­ty needs, that the depart­ment seek sug­ges­tions for effi­cien­cies from experts, think tanks and oth­er sources out­side nor­mal chan­nels, that it review its orga­ni­za­tion and oper­a­tions to effect sys­temic improve­ments, and to take spe­cif­ic actions to reduce overhead. 

“With regard to track four,” he said, “the sec­re­tary announced August ninth spe­cif­ic areas where the depart­ment can take action now to reduce inef­fi­cien­cy and overhead.” 

Gates’ Aug. 9 announce­ment includ­ed his pro­pos­al to close Joint Forces Com­mand based in Nor­folk, Va. 

Dur­ing his open­ing state­ment today, Cartwright said Jfcom had accom­plished its pri­ma­ry mis­sion to estab­lish “joint­ness” through­out the military. 

“It is our goal to reduce unin­tend­ed redun­dan­cies and lay­er­ing,” Cartwright said, “to more clear­ly align oper­a­tional respon­si­bil­i­ties with ser­vice, train and equip functions.” 

Mean­while, future mil­i­tary func­tions would “move toward a con­struct of com­bined, joint, inter­a­gency task force orga­ni­za­tions or cen­ters,” the gen­er­al said. 

Dur­ing his tes­ti­mo­ny, Carter said the department’s reduc­tion tar­gets were very reasonable. 

“We rec­og­nize the change in our busi­ness prac­tices will take time, and require the close con­tri­bu­tion of our indus­try part­ners,” he said. 

Carter said the alter­na­tive would be bro­ken or can­celled sys­tems, uncer­tain­ty for indus­try, ero­sion of tax­pay­er con­fi­dence and “lost capa­bil­i­ty for the warfight­er in a dan­ger­ous world.” 

“Not only can we suc­ceed in this endeav­or, but we real­ly have to,” he said. 

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

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