On Gates’s proposed FY2012 DOD budget


Yesterday, SECDEF Robert Gates revealed his proposed FY2012 DOD budget. He delivered a necessarily lengthy speech on this budget, outlining the numerous savings he has decided to make to reduce overhead spending and bureaucracy spending and how to reinvest these savings. Unfortunately, no sooner had Gates finished his speech that misinterpretations, inaccurate reports and (in the case of liberal websites) blatant lies were stated and spread around the Net. I’ve read the actual text of his speech, from DOD’s official website; thus, I use SECDEF Gates himself as the source of information on what SECDEF Gates said. Even FN has misinterpreted his words:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/01/06/gates-calls-billion-pentagon-budget-cuts/

His proposed FY2012 DOD budget in a nutshell is as follows:

1) He has managed to do what many people told him he would not be able to accomplish: generate annual overhead/duplication/bureaucracy/personnel/waste savings of over $20 bn per year, i.e. $100 bn over 5 years. Contrary to what many people and websites have said, he does not intend to cut defense spending by that, or any other, amount. His projects of defense spending don’t assume any defense spending cuts at all. Indeed, Gates has spoken out AGAINST defense spending cuts. He said he’s opposed to reductions of defense spending, and that the level of defense spending he has proposed for FY2012 is the minimum amount of money needed to protect America. He intends to reinvest 100% of those savings in the DOD. $28 bn of this $100 bn per year would be reinvested in DOD O&M and force structure costs to “pay the bills the DOD must pay”, as Gates termed it. But nonetheless, the DOD would still be able to reinvest $72 bn over 5 years in military capabilities under his plan.

2) What does Gates want these savings to be spent on? Mostly badly needed equipment, such as next generation bombers, warships, and fighterplanes as well as radars for them.

3) Gates and his people have reviewed the entire DOD budget, without any sacred cows. And they’ve found savings in many departments of the Pentagon – the TRICARE program, personnel accounts, the IT infrastructure, the DOD’s bloated commands and bureaucracies, fuel costs, etc.

4) Gates has sadly decided to axe a weapon program that the USMC badly needs, but one which has experienced serious cost overruns: the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, the USMC’s #1 ground vehicle priority program. He’s wrong on that score, but – it must be underlined – he has NOT questioned the fact that the USMC needs to be prepared for amphibious landings and that such landings may occur someday. He simply believes the EFV program is unaffordable. He projects that the program, if pursued to completion, would consume the USMC’s entire annual ground vehicle budget and the majority of its total procurement budget. He has recommended alternative policies, including modernization of the USMC’s existing amphibious APCs.

5) Gates has also wrongly decided to “put the F-35B variant on a two-year probation” and said that the F-35B variant should be cancelled if it’s not fixed during the next two years. There is no alternative to this model, and it’s not the only F-35 variant suffering problems.

6) The proposed FY2012 budget would provide or increase funding for a number of priority programs, including the SUper Hornet, EA-18G Growler, Next Generation Bomber, Reaper, MC-12, and X-47 N-UCAS programs.

7) Gates projects that defense spending would grow slightly (1% per year) in FYs2012-2014, then remain flat during FYs2015-2016.

8) On top of the $100 bn savings Gates has earmarked for the next 5 fiscal years, he has also saved $78 bn on overhead and personnel costs, and this money will not be reinvested in the DOD; it will be denied to the Pentagon during the next 5 fiscal years and redirected to whatever Obama and the OMB choose (probably they beloved socialist welfare programs).

9) All in all, Gates’ proposed FY2012 defense budget would amount to $553 bn, less than 1% more in nominal terms over the proposed (but never enacted) FY2011 DOD budget ($549 bn) and 1.5% more in real terms, than the FY2010 DOD budget. The largest DOD budget ever was the FY1988 budget.

10) Gates and his assistants looked at every aspect of how the DOD works, and at every department of the DOD. There were no sacred cows. They’ve designed savings on items as varied as unneeded reports, bloated bureaucracies, the DOD’s IT infrastructure, and aviation fuel.

The source: http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1527

Gates’ savings, if enacted, wouldn’t just save the DOD $20 bn per year and taxpayers an additional $78 bn over 5 FYs. They would fundamentally change how the DOD works, and instill “a culture of savings and restraint”, as Gates said.

Gates’s savings and efficiencies, if approved by the Congress, would allow the DOD to reinvest the money thus saved into the weapons the US military desperately needs.

This proposed budget, including the savings proposed by the services and by the SECDEF himself, constitutes proof that the DOD is reformable and willing to reform itself.

The opinion of the HASC Chairmain, the Honorable Howard McKeon, is as follows:

McKeon: New $78 Billion in Defense Cuts Is a Dramatic Shift for a Nation at War

Cuts above and beyond Gates $100 Billion in Efficiencies

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after being briefed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen on defense cuts within the Department of Defense: 

“I’m not happy.  We went into today’s meeting trying to ensure the $100 billion in targeted savings were reinvested back into our national security priorities. We didn’t expect to hear that before these efficiencies can be realized, the White House and OMB have demanded that the Pentagon cut an additional $78 billion from defense over the next five years.  

“These cuts are being made without any commitment to restore modest future growth, which is the only way to prevent deep reductions in force structure that will leave our military less capable and less ready to fight.  This is a dramatic shift for a nation at war and a dangerous signal from the Commander in Chief.

“Today’s meeting was the first step in a longer process that now involves the U.S. Congress.  We will closely scrutinize Secretary Gates’ proposal in the coming months as we craft the defense budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  At first glance, I’m particularly concerned about the proposed cuts to the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“Members of the House Armed Services Committee remain committed to the Marine Corps as an expeditionary fighting force ‘in ready’, which includes the capability to conduct amphibious landings.  This mission could be jeopardized by the cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a capability re-validated by the Secretary just last year, and delays in the Joint Strike Fighter and amphibious ship construction.

“I remain committed to applying more fiscal responsibility and accountability to the Department of Defense, but I will not stand idly by and watch the White House gut defense when Americans are deployed in harm’s way.”” – http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ContentRecord_id=2ae9f7e8-e049-4bf3-9449-61d1b2f52823

UPDATE: It was the Commandant of the Marine Corps who recommended that the EFV program be cancelled. He believes it’s unaffordable, but he also believes that doing amphibious landings is a core mission of the USMC, and that the Corps needs some vehicles to do it. ON THursday, he issued this statement:

“Today the Secretary of Defense announced the termination of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program.  I support his decision.  After a thorough review of the program within the context of a broader Marine Corps force structure review, I personally recommended to both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy that the EFV be cancelled and that the Marine Corps pursue a more affordable amphibious tracked fighting vehicle. 

                “Despite the critical amphibious and warfighting capability the EFV represents, the program is simply not affordable given likely Marine Corps procurement budgets.  The procurement and operations/maintenance costs of this vehicle are onerous.  After examining multiple options to preserve the EFV, I concluded that none of the options meets what we consider reasonable affordability criteria.  As a result, I decided to pursue a more affordable vehicle. 

                “Our nation’s amphibious capability remains the Corps’ priority.  In the complex security environment we face, the execution of amphibious operations requires the use of the sea as maneuver space.  A modern amphibious tracked vehicle is the means towards this end.  It enables the seamless projection of ready-to-fight Marine rifle squads from sea to land.  It is thus the key to allowing ship-to-shore operations in permissive, uncertain, and hostile environments; assuring access where infrastructure is destroyed or nonexistent; and creating joint access in defended areas.  It is also central to the entire Marine tactical vehicle strategy for operations ashore.  Once on land, an amphibious armored fighting vehicle provides the Marine rifle squad with the protected mobility and firepowerto maneuver to a position of advantage to rapidly close with, engage, and defeat the enemy.  

                “The Marine Corps remains committed to develop and field an effective, survivable and affordable amphibious tracked vehicle.  To bring this capability to the force sooner rather than later, we intend to capitalize on the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s recent efforts to streamline procurement and to rapidly accelerate the acquisition and contracting processes in developing our new amphibious tracked vehicle requirement.  

                “Shortly, we will issue a special notice to industry requesting information relative to supporting our required amphibious capabilities.  We look forward to working with industry in meeting this challenge to field a modern and affordable amphibious tracked vehicle that will support our nation’s needs.”

http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=14179

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