Carter pledges to prevent 'devastating' defense cuts, if confirmed

Nominee will offer recommendations ASAP upon his selection as deputy defense secretary

At his confirmation hearing Sept. 13, Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s nominee as deputy secretary of defense, was grilled by Senate Armed Services Committee members on his plans for cutting Defense Department spending by more than $300 billion over the next 10 years.

At the confirmation hearing, the committee also queried Carter on how he would move forward with the efficiency measures he rolled out last year and on providing Congress with recommendations for budget cutting. Carter is currently undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

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The recommendations were originally planned to come from a comprehensive internal review that is currently under way. However, after Carter testified that the review is behind schedule, ranking SASC member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) demanded that recommendations be provided sooner, in time for consideration by the super committee charged with identifying budget cuts.

Carter said that the comprehensive capabilities and mission review, slated to conclude by the end of the summer, may not be finished until the end of the year or later.

“If true, this review would not be available to inform the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or Congress generally on how the currently proposed defense spending cuts will affect national security,” McCain said. “This is unacceptable.”

Carter pledged that, if confirmed, he would work closely with Congress to identify cuts and savings that realistically could be implemented – and help avoid the automatic sequestration that will kick in if the super committee fails to pass a plan by mid-October.

“[The recommendations] won’t be final recommendations, but the options that we’re considering,” Carter said.

He warned, more than once, that if the $500-billion-plus, across-the-board automatic cuts to security spending were put in place under the sequestration process, it would be devastating to the military.

“Just the scale of it alone would lead us to have to consider truly Draconian things – abandoning major weapons systems, furloughing civilian employees and abruptly curtailing training because we couldn’t pay for fuel, and so forth,” Carter said. “When we say ‘disastrous,’ that’s the kind of disaster we mean.”

Still, Levin warned that any recommendations Carter offers ahead of the comprehensive review’s findings would still need to carry serious weight.

“Consultation is important, but what we need is recommendations,” Levin said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

Reader Comments

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 Strategic Dale

Defense Department - strategic planning needs to employ business strategies in the focus of budget planning and reduction. Case and point, when technology is acquired in industry the primary decision stems from efficiency, operational control and cost reduction. These all relate to improving a system to be more manageable. In the simplest term, we acquire computerized technology, in essence a method of reducing direct cost and overhead costs associated with the tasks. This effort removes the direct labor (people) out of the equation. Hence reduces operating costs. When the Federal Agencies acquire technology to manage efficiency, there is no cost reduction rather the opposite an increase, now skill is needed to maintain and operate the technology. Notice there is no replacement of staff or upgrading of skill sets, rather an addition. "The people principle" needs to be a part of the equation and solution, as opposed to "providing the solution with more people" or a new mind set. The inevitable must be decided, if we expect to achieve the results being requested.

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 Ammo Joe

Suggest that you all take a look at what the Project on Governmant Oversight found when it comes to the disparity between Government/Defense Contracters and the Federal workforce doing the same jobs. You'll be shocked at what they have discovered in the relationship between contractor workers, private sector workers and Federal workers. I think you'll find that in the defense industry there is a great deal of savings that can be realized by implimenting some of the ideas they have come up with. Mainly paying the contractors and their employees the same as Fed worker force pay scales, i.e. SES,GS,WG Etc. Check the POGO study out on their web site.

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