The U.S. Defense Department “undoubtedly” will be forced to terminate weapons programs upon completion of the comprehensive review requested by President Barack Obama, according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Reassessing programs is “only a piece” of what Pentagon officials will be examining. The review will cover the roles and missions of the U.S. military services and the force structure and capabilities required to accomplish those missions, the department’s undersecretary for acquisitions, Ashton Carter, said today.
This year the Pentagon has terminated the General Dynamics Corp. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Medium Extended Air Defense System. “There undoubtedly will be more cancellations of that kind,” Carter said.
“We will be scrutinizing all of our programs and activities for those that are not needed,” he said today in remarks at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy research center in Washington.
While weapons spending “is an important part, it is only a piece of the defense budget,” Carter said.
“It’s very easy to pick programs because they all have a name and they are discrete. They are easy to write about, but that’s not where the money is,” he said.
Cuts In 2013
Carter said the additional cuts are likely to start in the fiscal year 2013 budget. The end of the EFV and Meads programs followed a slew of terminations and truncations that Gates announced in April 2009 and that the Pentagon says has saved in excess of $300 billion over the life of the programs.
Separately, Carter’s deputy, Frank Kendall, told a breakfast meeting of defense reporters that “everything is on the table when you get into that kind of broad review,” including the force structure and missions.
Obama, as part of his plan to reduce the nation’s long-term debt, on April 13 proposed cutting $400 billion from the Pentagon’s budget through the 2023 fiscal year, extending cuts beyond the $78 billion proposed in January by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This included savings of $4 billion from reorganizing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program and $68 billion from a combination of shedding excess overhead, improving business practices and personnel costs, and revising economic inflation assumptions.
A White House fact sheet said the administration wants to achieve deeper reductions in security spending by holding growth in “base security spending below inflation.”
Gates’s “efficiency initiatives are about to go into overdrive to identify DoD’s overwhelming majority contribution to President Obama’s goal” of cutting $400 billion from the defense budget, Heritage Foundation defense analyst Mackenzie Eaglen said in an e-mail.
“It is a virtual certainty DoD will carry the lion’s share of that burden, possibly upwards of 90 percent,” she said.
The administration has forecast that over the next five years, the government will pile up a cumulative deficit of $3.8 trillion; over the decade, the cumulative deficits would rise to $7.2 trillion.
In addition to defense cuts, Obama has proposed three other main components to reduce the debt, according to a White House statement: holding down domestic spending, curbing health-care costs and closing tax loopholes.