USA — Gates Vows to Focus on Reform, Reducing Overhead

WASHINGTON — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates today vowed to take the time nec­es­sary to reform the Defense Depart­ment and elim­i­nate unnec­es­sary over­head expens­es.
At a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence, Gates said he has made fight­ing this fight the goal of his remain­ing time a defense sec­re­tary.

“I intend to spend every day, for as long as I remain sec­re­tary of defense, doing all I can to imple­ment these reforms that are so crit­i­cal to sus­tain­ing our mil­i­tary in the years ahead,” he said.

The sec­re­tary also threw down the gaunt­let to Con­gress, say­ing that if the fis­cal 2011 defense autho­riza­tion bill includes funds for an alter­na­tive engine for the F‑35 Light­ning II joint strike fight­er, he will ask Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to veto the whole bill. If Con­gress includes an addi­tion­al half of a per­cent­age point to the mil­i­tary pay raise over the administration’s rec­om­men­da­tion, how­ev­er, he said he will not rec­om­mend a veto.

“I believe the defense bud­get process should no longer be char­ac­ter­ized by busi­ness as usu­al with­in this build­ing or out­side of it,” the sec­re­tary said. “We in [the Defense Depart­ment] must make tough choic­es and deci­sions to ensure that cur­rent and future mil­i­tary com­bat capa­bil­i­ties can be sus­tained in a time of bud­get strin­gency.” Gates has the full sup­port of the uni­formed mil­i­tary in the build­ing, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the news con­fer­ence.

“The prop­er stew­ard­ship of the tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars is high on absolute­ly everybody’s list,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. “I don’t under­es­ti­mate the chal­lenge that is here. But I think being able to get at over­head and shift it … and do so inside the force struc­ture that we have right now is absolute­ly crit­i­cal.”

Gates unveiled his goal of elim­i­nat­ing over­head and shift­ing the sav­ings to more crit­i­cal mis­sion-ori­ent­ed pro­grams dur­ing a speech at the Eisen­how­er Library in Abi­lene, Kan., May 8. “I have chal­lenged this depart­ment to become more effi­cient in the way it is orga­nized, staffed and oper­at­ed and, in so doing, find the sav­ings nec­es­sary to sus­tain essen­tial mil­i­tary force struc­ture and capa­bil­i­ties,” he said.

The sec­re­tary met with defense and ser­vice lead­ers ear­li­er this week to estab­lish a plan and process for attain­ing this goal.

“Get­ting this done will require the pri­or­i­ty atten­tion of our entire lead­er­ship team and include all ser­vices, com­mands, com­po­nents and ele­ments of America’s defense estab­lish­ment,” Gates said.

The depart­ment also will work with Con­gress, think tanks, acad­e­mia and oth­ers for “spe­cif­ic and work­able pro­pos­als on how to change the way this depart­ment does busi­ness,” he added.

Gates stressed that he is not ask­ing for cuts in the defense bud­get. As the depart­ment fights two wars and as plan­ners antic­i­pate an unset­tled future, he said, the depart­ment needs a cer­tain amount of year­ly real growth.

“The president’s bud­get pro­pos­al … pro­pos­es such a real growth path,” he said. “How­ev­er, the depart­ment will face very dif­fi­cult choic­es with regard to sus­tain­ing need­ed mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties in the years ahead unless it is able to shift resources away from excess man­age­ment struc­ture or low­er-pri­or­i­ty areas and towards cur­rent and future com­bat capa­bil­i­ties.”

His intent in shift­ing funds is to pro­tect the required bud­get growth in areas most impor­tant to the defense of the Unit­ed States, Gates said. These include force struc­ture, uni­formed per­son­nel or future com­bat capa­bil­i­ties.

The sec­re­tary told reporters he is wor­ried about con­gres­sion­al actions on the joint strike fight­er pro­gram and the desire of some in Con­gress to buy more C‑17 Globe­mas­ter III trans­port jets that he says the Defense Depart­ment does­n’t need.

The House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee has passed its ver­sion of the autho­riza­tion bill, he said, and “it appears that the com­mit­tee con­tin­ues to insist that the depart­ment add an extra engine to the joint strike fight­er.

“In addi­tion,” he said, “the detailed con­di­tions they have imposed on the over­all [joint strike fight­er] pro­gram would make it essen­tial­ly unex­e­cutable and impose unac­cept­able sched­ule and bud­get costs.”

The joint strike fight­er pro­gram is the largest and most impor­tant acqui­si­tion project over the next decade. It has been through some tough times, and Gates per­son­al­ly inter­vened in an attempt to get the pro­gram back on track.

“Our team has tak­en aggres­sive steps to restruc­ture and man­age it through this crit­i­cal phase in devel­op­ment,” he said. “I am there­fore deter­mined to ensure that it remains on track. Accord­ing­ly, as I have stat­ed repeat­ed­ly, should the Con­gress insist on adding fund­ing for a cost­ly and unnec­es­sary JSF extra engine or direct changes that seri­ous­ly dis­rupt the JSF pro­gram, or impose addi­tion­al C‑17 air­craft, I will strong­ly rec­om­mend that the pres­i­dent veto such leg­is­la­tion.”

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 →