White Asks During Free for All Friday:
"Gates Says ‘Hard Choices’ Needed on Weapons Spending (Update1)
Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Obama administration must make “hard choices” on weapons spending that could include targeting specific programs, according to a draft of his testimony tomorrow to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Any changes” Congress makes to the 2010 budget “should avoid across-the-board adjustments, which inefficiently extend all programs,” pushing out schedules and increasing costs, Gates said in his prepared comments on weapons acquisition.
“Five programs account for half of total cost growth in weapons spending,” Gates said. These programs are Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Boeing Co.’s Future Combat Systems; Virginia Class attack submarines built by General Dynamics Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.; the Pentagon’s primary satellite-launch program, a joint effort of Lockheed and Boeing; and a program to destroy the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons which includes a number of defense contractors.
I would be nervous if my livelihood depended on any of the first four of five programs mentioned. The fifth has no chance of failing under this Congress.
Just saw yesterday that the OMB targets sent to DoD for FY10 defense budget deviate in a big way from POM10. To those who don't speak Pentagon, this means that the new President's budget shop has told the Pentagon to go back to the drawing board and find billions of dollars in savings to bring down defense spending.
Lots of waste in the defense budget, no doubt. And any article like this one is sure to stir up Mudge's hornets nest...but let's go on anyway.
We're getting ready to spend $819B on a stimulus package that stimulates very little, at the same time we're looking to cut billions from the defense budget. From where will those cuts come? Not operations and maintenance for our troops in the field...to any large extent. No, the cuts will come from acquisition. Big programs will be canceled and planned new starts won't start. What does this mean? It means a loss of capability that at some point was validated by uniformed leadership to be essential to our fighting forces, and it means the loss of jobs. That's right..every weapons system that gets axed represents thousands of people on production lines, engineers, designers, etc.
Now Mudge, I'm not saying there isn't waste, and I'm not saying that the defense industry cannot get leaner and do better. But I am saying that the money spent on systems like those mentioned in the article above are all about ECONOMIC stimulation, and by that I mean good, high paying, American jobs. Spend $819B on stimulus and then cancel LCS? Well, there goes thousands of jobs, added unemployment benefits, loss of tax revenue, etc.
Defense spending is a big fat target. But what made cutting defense easy in the 90's was that the rest of the economy was HUMMING. Now, defense is an anchor and one of the few places in the larger economy where significant contraction hasn't happened.