USA — Efficiency Initiative Has Broad Support, Cartwright Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2010 — The effi­cien­cy ini­tia­tives Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates announced yes­ter­day are just part of a dri­ve that has been mov­ing since the sec­re­tary took office, the vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Left to right, Chris­tine H. Fox, the Defense Department’s direc­tor of cost assess­ment and pro­gram eval­u­a­tion; Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Pen­ta­gon Comp­trol­ler Robert F. Hale answer ques­tions from reporters fol­low­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ announce­ment of effi­cien­cy ini­tia­tives at the Pen­ta­gon, Aug. 9, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Cherie Cullen
Click to enlarge

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright said the effort to find effi­cien­cies in the depart­ment and to apply the sav­ings to more deserv­ing projects is not a “one-off” activ­i­ty, but rather will con­tin­ue.

“We start­ed back in ’08 and ’09 with culling out pro­grams that were not per­form­ing and were not con­tribut­ing to the capa­bil­i­ties that we thought we had to have, either because they were fail­ing on their own or they did­n’t match up,” Cartwright said fol­low­ing the secretary’s announce­ment. “That activ­i­ty has con­tin­ued inside the depart­ment to ensure that we stay rel­e­vant to the wars that we’re in, and that we also start to address the uncer­tain­ties and the unfore­cast activ­i­ties that may occur in the wars … we will face in the future.”

Much of the dis­cus­sion has cen­tered on how to change the cul­ture of the mas­sive defense bureau­cra­cy and how such a large orga­ni­za­tion can stay com­pet­i­tive. The dis­cus­sions also looked at iden­ti­fy­ing tech­nolo­gies and capa­bil­i­ties that will be need­ed in the future.

The Defense Depart­ment “requires a cul­ture that is agile, has the capa­bil­i­ties to remain agile and remain com­pet­i­tive,” the gen­er­al said.

Cartwright spoke along­side Defense Depart­ment Comp­trol­ler Robert F. Hale and Chris­tine H. Fox, direc­tor of the Pentagon’s cost assess­ment and pro­gram eval­u­a­tion office, and all said they sup­port the secretary’s ini­tia­tive aimed at reform­ing the Pen­ta­gon and elim­i­nat­ing unnec­es­sary duplica­tive costs.

Cartwright acknowl­edged that guess­ing what capa­bil­i­ties are need­ed to fight the next war is dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble, and that build­ing a force around those guess­es is a recipe for fail­ure. But stress­ing the need for intel­li­gent and agile-mind­ed per­son­nel will serve the mil­i­tary and the nation, he added.

“I have all too many expe­ri­ences, from the ’70s for­ward, of hav­ing capa­bil­i­ties that we thought were right for the last war and real­ly turned out not to be what we need­ed for the next war,” he said. “There is no crys­tal ball, but there is an under­stand­ing that through your peo­ple and through the capa­bil­i­ties that you field, you can have the Depart­ment of Defense and the nation­al secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus rel­e­vant for the next con­flicts. That’s our objec­tive here.”

Cartwright said the mem­bers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff intu­itive­ly under­stand this, and see the secretary’s ini­tia­tives as hav­ing pos­i­tive effects on the force.

“Mak­ing sure that we keep this orga­ni­za­tion rel­e­vant, com­pet­i­tive, agile for the next-gen­er­a­tion con­flicts is at the core of this activ­i­ty,” he said. “Hav­ing the resources in the wrong place does­n’t serve any of us well.”

The gen­er­al acknowl­edged the deci­sions are hard and will affect peo­ple – most notably those in U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand, the office of the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for net­work inte­gra­tion and the Busi­ness Trans­for­ma­tion Agency, which Gates will close. “This is a rebal­anc­ing to ensure this depart­ment remains ready both for today’s con­flicts and for the unknowns and ‘unan­tic­i­pat­eds’ of the future con­flict,” Cartwright said.

Those who think this effort will fiz­zle out are in for a sur­prise, the gen­er­al said.

“Please don’t mis­read; this is some­thing that we believe is No. 1 on our list,” he said. “This is some­thing that we are going to go after.”

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

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