Among the mandates of the Budget Control Act of 2011 was a reduction in Department of Defense spending of $487 billion over the next decade with $259 billion in cuts to be made by FY2017. The FY 2013 Department of Defense budget proposal sets out to do just that, through a combination of efficiency savings, personnel cuts and program delays or cuts. Dr. George Little, Pentagon Press Secretary, and Captain John Kirby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations briefed reporters Friday on the newly released budget proposal.
The cuts in personnel are significant. The Army will shrink by about 80,000 troops and the Marine Corps will shrink by 20,000. The Navy will see the retirement of some older ships, seven cruisers and two LSD’s. The Air Force will see its fleets of aircraft shrink by 130, 27 C-5A’s, 65 C-130”s and all of the C-27J’s (38). Several procurement programs are let slip, including one Virginia class submarine and procurement of 2 Littoral Combat Ships and 8 Joint High Speed Vessels.
Program cuts are being made to the Joint Strike Fighter program, the Army Ground Combat Vehicle and the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. Terminated programs include the Global Hawk Block 30 and the Defense Weather Satellite System.
The Reserves and National Guard will be affected least by these cuts. Captain Kirby assured reporters that current civilian assistance missions such as aerial firefighting and the Antarctic supply missions flown by Air Guard and Reserve units will be maintained. He also stated that the capabilities of the Army Corps of Engineers would be preserved.
Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions will be enhanced. Dr. Little discussed the “Black Swan” problem, an unforeseen surprise, and told reporters that “we want to be on the front lines of surprise.” He did state his belief that “we have an understanding of the near-term strategic horizon and where the threats are likely to come from.”
The 2013 budget provides for an increase in drone capability to 65 with a surge capability of 85 per day, which will require investment in personnel and basing. Money is included for the Gray Eagle and Fire Scout UAV programs. The Predators are being retained for a longer period and purchases of the Reaper slowed to achieve some cost savings.
Captain Kirby discussed the rotational nature of the deployment of the remaining brigade combat teams. The intent of the work with the BCT’s is to develop in them regional expertise by assigning them to a specific combatant command. He termed this as “flexible employment of the assets we have”.
Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a free lance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.