WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2011 — The members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are fully behind Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ proposed efficiencies for the military, the nation’s top military officer said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that “the chiefs and I are in complete support of these decisions.”
The military leaders were integral to the process that looked for and found $154 billion in savings over the next five years, Mullen said.
“This is the second time we’ve been through this kind of review with the secretary, and it has been managed in the most inclusive, detailed and deliberate way,” he said. “He gave us broad guidance. We helped craft the specifics, and these are our decisions, too.”
The services will be able to reinvest the savings they found in higher-priority programs. All services will invest in more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The Navy will disestablish the 2nd Fleet and will use those savings and more to fund additional ships. The Army will cancel a missile system and use the funds to refurbish armored vehicles and fund suicide prevention activities. The Air Force will consolidate three numbered Air Force staffs and use the savings to ensure U.S. access to space.
The secretary restructured the F-35 joint strike fighter program and agreed with the recommendation to eliminate the Marine Corps’ expeditionary fighting vehicle. The plan in the out years calls for a reduction in the size of the Army and Marine Corps.
The chairman often has said he sees the growth of the national debt as a security threat to the United States. The secretary’s efficiencies, reforms and budget proposals help the Defense Department to attack the debt situation, he said today.
“We can’t hold ourselves exempt from the belt-tightening,” he said. “Neither can we allow ourselves to contribute to the very debt that puts our long-term security at risk.”
The efficiencies aren’t solely about cutting or savings, the chairman said, but rather are about readiness.
“Not only do these reforms preserve essential capabilities -– which is the highest priority of this process -– but it will improve this process,” Mullen said. “We will do things smarter, more efficiently and more in line with the challenges we face and the fiscal environment we are in.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
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