Monday, May 20, 2013

Plan for $400, hope for $250 .... billion

It would have been better to do this a few years ago ... but methinks they needed a happy hatchet man in the top post.
Senior US Defense Department officials are expected to present three budget-cutting scenarios to the defense secretary when they wrap up a wide-ranging review of military strategy at the end of this month, according to sources.

These officials, part of the Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR), are preparing for a range of budget cuts — $100 billion, $300 billion and $500 billion — sources said.
The first SCMR — known as the “skimmer” or “scammer” in defense circles — assumes the White House’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal is adopted. That plan calls for $100 billion in cuts, but those cuts are back-loaded in the final five years of the decade-long plan. Pentagon officials favor this option because it gives them time to plan and gradually implement the cuts.

Sources say the Army would bear the brunt of those cuts, mostly to force structure. Still, Pentagon officials believe a greater spending cut will be levied on DoD.

If the second option — the $300 billion cut — were put in place, the cuts would be levied against all the services.

The third option assumes full sequestration, or $500 billion over the decade. Sources with insight into the SCMR say this option would wreak the most havoc on the military and force the cancellation or scaling back of several major acquisition efforts.
All these plans are looking at a 10-year execution timeline, with most of the cuts in some coming in the second half .... so .... take it all with a large chunk of salt. Truth can change a lot over a decade, but the change can go in either way.
Throughout the two-month review, DoD officials have agreed that closing bases and changing military compensation are critical components to achieving these targets, sources said. But these officials are pessimistic that Congress will sign off on such institutional changes, meaning force structure, acquisition programs and mission areas would bear the brunt of spending cuts.
We have had enough BRAC, thank you. Quality of work? Work on a mega-base vice a more modest sized base; huge difference. I'll take a tour in Mayport over Norfolk any day of the week. We also won't always be at a point where we will be at this small of a military.

The "white space" in this nation is more or less gone due to population, regulations, and other pressures. Once you lose a base, it is very difficult to get it back. Have your J4 folks give you the West Coast brief again. Wars will come in the future - major wars. History tells us that is true. We've BRAC'd enough, look elsewhere.

Force structure and acquisitions? We can do more there, and should.

As for military compensation, I have an idea for you; have the same compensation decreases for ALL federal employees if you are going to do that to DOD uniformed members. Starting point.

That is my snort/snark.  There is some good focus here on something we got very sloppy about in the fat years.
Regardless of the budget situation, the Pentagon has already launched an effort to reduce headquarters staff sizes.

Hagel has targeted so-called overhead spending as a key area for cutting. Last week, a Government Accountability Office report found headquarters staffs at geographical combatant commands have increased by 50 percent to about 10,100 people. Mission and headquarters support costs at these commands is about $1.1 billion each year.
Keep going deeper in the echelon structure. Plenty of room to cut. Also need to look at shore BSC where things that were once collateral duties are now "full-time" jobs. Many of those exist just to create reports that no one needs but others in higher echelons with the same job title ... and none of it value added. You have two LCDR doing what should be a collateral duty for a Senior Chief, if that. Self-licking ice cream cones need to go.

Sailors going a decade without a deployment? Review their billets for a hint.

One thing that isn't addressed, and should be if we really have a strong desire to make a more modern and cost effective DOD; Goldwater-Nichols needs to be junked.

Something created decades ago at the height of the Cold War that has morphed and acquired all sorts of beggar-weeds needs to be removed. That requires the right people in Congress with the will to do that - I don't know if we are there yet.

As a result, we will have to make do with what we have. Good, smart people are working hard on this - and there will be many different ways to load-monitor your requirements inside what will be a growing era of budget stress. 

To get it right, we need a broad, open, and vigorous debate. I think we'll get one.

More to follow on this topic. The end of the month should be fun.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), CSIS, American Enterprise Institute and Center for New American Security are scheduled to present their findings at a May 29 event on Capitol Hill.

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