As the Defense Business Board task force recently recommended a series of deep cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD), Secretary Robert Gates responded with an outline of sweeping cuts (press release) to the DoD.
“Therefore, today I am announcing an initial set of decisions designed to reduce duplication, overhead and excess in the defense enterprise and over time instill a culture of savings and restraint in this department,” Gates said during a DOD News Briefing on August 9.
One of the cuts Gates suggested is closure of the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) which he said has “created an unneeded extra layer and step in the force management process.” The Washington Post reported this could translate to loss of 6,100 military, civilian and contractor jobs in Virginia; primarily the economies of Hampton Roads, the Norfolk area and Northern Virginia.
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Virginia received $35 billion in defense contracts, supporting more than 530,000 contracting and associated jobs during fiscal 2008, with about 70 percent of those dollars flowing to Northern Virginia, according to the Post. Gates also outlined a reduction of funding for support contractors by 10 percent a year for the next three years, which would translate to a loss of about $35 billion for Northern Virginia economy said Stephen Fuller, director for the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Fairfax.
Gates has directed a freeze on the number of civilian senior executives, general and flag-officers, and PAS positions. A senior task force will assess the number and location of senior positions and the associated overhead. Gates suggested the minimum cuts for his effort to be at least 50 general and flag-officer positions and 150 senior civilian executive positions over the next two years.
“These reductions would represent 50 percent of the total growth in senior military and civilian positions since 2000,” Gates said. “That’s the minimum.”
Gates also implemented a freeze to the number of Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Defense Agency and combatant command positions for the next three years.
In an unexpected move, a week after hiring a new CIO for the DoD, the position was eliminated by Gates, who moved its functions to a "re-fashioned" Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The acquisition functions will be performed by the Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistic. Gates wants to consolidate technology capabilities across the DoD to reduce cyber vulnerabilities and find additional savings.
Now that cuts have been sought by Gates, will they actually happen?