Gates Criticizes Deficit Panel’s Proposed Cuts in U.S. Defense

Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized proposed military cuts outlined by a deficit- reduction commission as “math, not strategy,” defending his plan to reinvest savings in high-priority areas.

“If you cut the defense budget by 10 percent, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that’s $55 billion on a $1.4 trillion deficit,” Gates said. “We are not the problem.”

Deficit panel co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson called on Nov. 10 for $100 billion of defense cuts in 2015, with steps such as canceling a version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F- 35 jet. The 2015 defense budget is now projected to be about $666 billion.

The target list also includes ending production of the Textron Inc.-Boeing Co. tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey and a General Dynamics Corp. Marine Corps combat vehicle.

“In terms of the specifics they came up with, that’s essentially math, not strategy,” Gates told a Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting in Washington today.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform would use its $100 billion in proposed defense cuts to lower the deficit. The panel needs agreement from 14 of its 18 members before a plan can be sent for an up-or-down vote in Congress.

Photographer: Lima/AFP/Getty Images

The tilt-rotor V-22 Opsrey is among military hardware proposed to be cut by a deficit-reduction commission. Close

The tilt-rotor V-22 Opsrey is among military hardware proposed to be cut by a... Read More

Close
Open
Photographer: Lima/AFP/Getty Images

The tilt-rotor V-22 Opsrey is among military hardware proposed to be cut by a deficit-reduction commission.

Gates, anticipating a drive to reduce the growth in defense spending, is pressing the military services for cuts totaling $100 billion. The savings from overhead would be spent on more critical priorities.

“That means going in with a scalpel instead of a meat ax and figuring out how we change the way we do business,” Gates said today.

The defense chief, who met with Simpson and Bowles before they issued their recommendations, said he has had “incredible cooperation” from the military services. His goal is to save enough in other areas to maintain 3 percent growth after inflation in spending for the forces and weapons modernization.

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva4@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.