USA — Gates: Budget Request Reflects Pentagon’s Reform Agenda

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2010 — The fis­cal 2011 defense bud­get request con­tin­ues and builds on the reforms of the fis­cal 2010 bud­get, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates told the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Committee’s sub­com­mit­tee on defense today.

The pro­posed base bud­get request is $549 bil­lion, a 3.4 per­cent increase over the cur­rent fis­cal year. The bud­get request allows real growth of 1.8 per­cent, reflect­ing the administration’s com­mit­ment to mod­est, steady and sus­tain­able real growth in defense spend­ing, Gates said.

The sec­re­tary tes­ti­fied along­side Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The request takes aim at pro­grams that were exces­sive or per­form­ing poor­ly. These include end­ing the Navy’s EPX intel­li­gence air­craft, the third-gen­er­a­tion infrared sur­veil­lance pro­gram, the next gen­er­a­tion CGX cruis­er, the net-enabled and con­trolled com­mand and con­trol pro­gram, and the Defense Inte­grat­ed Mil­i­tary Human Resources Sys­tem. The request com­pletes the C-17 air­lifter pro­gram and clos­es the pro­duc­tion line.

The request ends the sec­ond engine for the F-35 joint strike fight­er, “as what­ev­er ben­e­fits might accrue are more than off­set by excess costs, com­plex­i­ty and asso­ci­at­ed risks,” Gates said.

The sec­re­tary was pre­cise in spelling out his oppo­si­tion to the last two of those pro­grams in par­tic­u­lar.

“I will con­tin­ue to strong­ly rec­om­mend that the pres­i­dent veto any leg­is­la­tion that sus­tains the con­tin­u­a­tion of the C-17 or the F-35 extra engine,” Gates said. “And giv­en some recent com­men­tary, let me be explic­it. It would be a very seri­ous mis­take to believe the pres­i­dent would accept these unneed­ed pro­grams sim­ply because the autho­riza­tion or appro­pri­a­tions leg­is­la­tion includes oth­er pro­vi­sions impor­tant to him and to this admin­is­tra­tion.”

Gates said the depart­ment must main­tain bud­get growth over the next few years, as the nation fights two wars. That said, Gates added, he under­stands this is a fis­cal­ly con­strained envi­ron­ment, and wants the depart­ment to trim over­head costs and rethink acqui­si­tion.

“Last month I called on the Pen­ta­gon to take a hard, unspar­ing look at how the depart­ment is staffed, orga­nized and oper­at­ed,” he said. “My goal is to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce our over­head costs in order to free up the resources need­ed to sus­tain our force struc­ture, to mod­ern­ize and to cre­ate future com­bat capa­bil­i­ties while liv­ing with­in the cur­rent top line.”

Defense Depart­ment lead­ers are look­ing to find more than $100 bil­lion in over­head sav­ings over the next five fis­cal years, start­ing in fis­cal 2012. “No orga­ni­za­tion with­in the depart­ment, includ­ing my own office, will be exclud­ed from these efforts,” Gates said. “All of the sav­ings will be applied to fund per­son­nel and units, force struc­ture and invest­ment in future capa­bil­i­ties.”

Gates stressed the bud­get reflects the department’s major pri­or­i­ties. The first of these is strength­en­ing the nation’s com­mit­ment to care for the all-vol­un­teer force, America’s great­est strate­gic asset, the sec­re­tary said. The sec­ond pri­or­i­ty seeks to rebal­ance U.S. defense pos­ture by empha­siz­ing both the capa­bil­i­ties need­ed to pre­vail in irreg­u­lar con­flicts and the capa­bil­i­ties that like­ly will be need­ed in the future.

The third pri­or­i­ty is to con­tin­ue to reform the acqui­si­tion process.

The sec­re­tary also addressed the pend­ing request for $159 bil­lion in fis­cal 2011 to sup­port over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions, pri­mar­i­ly in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also asked Con­gress to speed approval of $33 bil­lion need­ed in fis­cal 2010 to fund Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s new approach in Afghanistan.

“The com­mit­ments made and pro­grams fund­ed in the [over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions] and sup­ple­men­tal requests demon­strate this administration’s deter­mi­na­tion to sup­port our troops and com­man­ders at the front so they can accom­plish their crit­i­cal mis­sions and return home safe­ly,” Gates said.

“I am becom­ing increas­ing­ly con­cerned about the lack of progress on the sup­ple­men­tal, and strong­ly urge Con­gress to com­plete its work on the request as quick­ly as pos­si­ble,” the sec­re­tary said. “If the sup­ple­men­tal is not enact­ed by the July 4 con­gres­sion­al recess, we will have to begin plan­ning to cur­tail defense oper­a­tions. Such plan­ning is dis­rup­tive and can be cost­ly, espe­cial­ly in time of war, and I ask your help in avoid­ing this action.”

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