Author: Norris, Mark
Date published: May 1, 2011
The president's framework to save $400 billion in security spending by 2023 will reduce projected Army base funding over the next 12 years-we won't know the details until the secretary of defense completes a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, our role in a changing world, and obtains the president's approval.
Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army G-8 (SES)
"You want to cut that? Yes sir, but if we do, we'll make troop strength vulnerable for future projections on the Korean Peninsula. Yes sir, I understand, but cutting that weapon system will hollow our capabilities here and in Europe. No Sir, I'm just looking at TDA requirements that will be stripped to the bone if we don't consider this data."
This kind of conversation is going on today at the highest Army echelons as they work to develop H.R. 1540, The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012. Funding cuts are complicating this year's submission, leaving G-8 with the arduous task of identifying ?slash' areas to accommodate the executive branch's budget-balancing intent of cutting $400 billion from Department of Defense funding over the next 12 years. Administrators involved in current Army talks include the Office of the President; the House Armed Services Committee; Army G-8; and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Negotiated answers will shed light on how today's budget battles will affect future Army investment strategies and modernization. Will Army force and equipment cuts hollow instead of toughen at smaller levels? Will civilian workforce reductions harm or help the Army's mission of national defense? These are central questions in need of answers as the process plays out.
The recent 2011 budget fight that nearly de-funded the government was fought between the House of Representatives (which has a 48 seat Republican majority - 240 Republicans, 192 Democrats), and the Senate (six seat Democrat majority - 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans), two Independents who usually vote Democrat. It is Congress, not the president who is charged to raise and support armies (U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8), but not without the addition of, "concurrence and amendments," of the Senate (Article I, Section 7). The president wields the power of veto and holds supreme U.S. government authority to sign a bill into law. However, the vice president can break any Senate tie, so more stalled negotiations could lie ahead. The House Armed Services Committee is opposed to deep cuts. If the issue lingers six months into the next fiscal year like the 2011 budget, due Oct. 31, 2010, but passed April 14, 2011, 2012 elections could change the situation. But for now, the battle rages with the first round of $400 billion military cuts targeted for this year.
When Army G-8 Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Don Tison, spoke at the 2011 Fires Seminar he addressed the 2011 budget battle and tried to explain how G-8 will navigate next year's budget rounds.
"I was talking yesterday with (Vice Chief of Staff), GEN (Peter W.) Chiarelli about our current Army funding situation and he asked if I'd ever seen it as confusing as it is today," Tison said in his opening address. "And, I had to tell him, I agreed that it was the most confusing I'd ever seen it because of the speed and funding cuts that have been presented to us. Things are moving so fast in so many directions, it's all oral. You listen to what a person's telling you, and you move with that."
The Deputy G-8 Chief of Staff did state the DoD finally made out good in the hard fought 2011 budget, requesting $703.3 billion, and receiving $688 billion, with the Army receiving $239 billion of its requested $245.6 billion.
"The best case outcome for the Army in regard to the $6 billion reduction from FY11," Tison said. "It provides a new start and increased production rate authorities, with long-term impacts of delayed contract awards and deferred military construction." Because of cuts made to the 2011 Army budget, we may have a little leeway to play with in next year's budget discussions, or, maybe not.
Tison repeatedly noted each year's budget round outcomes in the current political environment may have a different outcome.
In 2010, the executive administration called for a decrease of 20,000 Soldiers by 2013, to field a force of 540,000 active troops. The president then called for another force reduction of 27,000 to trim the force to 530,000 by 2017.
"Our current first round of budget battles to fund the military in 2012 will involve asking individual units what they can put on the chopping block, review their findings, and present them to the Secretary of Defense," Tison said.
"OSD has identified 42 percent of the Department of the Army as infrastructure (support services and facilities, which fall under Title 10 [Armed Forces role in U.S.]). Since the start of the war in 2001, war forces have grown for the fight, but infrastructure has not. So if you're looking for resources to cut, forces might be an area you may want to consider," Tison said.
"I think the best that will happen is, we will be able to put a positive wedge in the process to avoid some reductions. It's much better to approach the situation from the bottom up instead of the top down, because when you start looking at whacking things from the top there's huge second pro-order effects," Tison added. "When you cut out an equipping system you impact training and sustainment, and you can't do that very well.
"What we're trying to do is look at this process to see where we can best take or not take risks. Once you turn it in there's no guarantee of what will happen. It then becomes a conversation between the Secretary of Defense and others. Taking into consideration what we need overseas, contractor and civilian reductions-and how you enact and make them stick-are all part of the oral negotiations, now under way," he said.
Current program of record capability requirement funding, for the years 20142018, are projecting a 15 percent equipment reduction; 15 percent full spectrum training reduction; 15 percent facilities cost reduction; and 10 percent personnel cost reduction.
OSD is also now looking at what other base realignments and closures can be done. Tison acknowledged the supplemental war funding that's been appropriated over the past eight years has been addicting. "The challenge along with everything else," he said, "is to let it ?creep back inside.'"
With a new Secretary of Defense and Army Chief of Staff recently coming on board, discussions on future Army funding are adding new dynamic to the issue of reductions for FY12.
To modernize our force, we need an investment strategy that effectively addresses today's unanswered questions, which confront the Army, and today it all depends on the budget battles waged at the top. Better and smaller are budget cut goals in Washington. But, again, what weapons systems and reduced force Soldier criteria will be required to build a smaller, yet ?better' force between now and 2023?
* White House civilian workforce reduction
* Temporary end strength increase reduction
* Army active component end strength reduction
* The global posture review (what we need where for worldwide U.S. defense)
* Implementation of DoD efficiencies initiatives
* Organizational consolidations
* E n e rg y s e c u r i t y i n v e s t m e n t requirements
These are more real-need questions deserving answers that could determine the outcome of the next decade. "Manpower is the Army's funding driver," Tison said. "The Army is essentially a labor force. None of us know today how decisions currently sought will actually work out. We've targeted some areas and have received feedback from those areas that gives us a worse case baseline."
Requirements and capabilities, changing system cost benefits that continue to meet requirements, disintegrated architecture, acquisition decision memorandum ,sourced battery units, PEO summit, defense vulnerability?this the language of our future battle management capabilities.
Fires questions will include:
"How will we get Paladin Integrated Management to milestone C by 2013?"
"How will we negotiate our needed guided multiple launch system warheads?"
"What precision Fires and Air Missile Defense firing platforms will we get?"
"How do you define space vs. aerial?"
"How will we accommodate combatant command requests for acquisition development?
Complex is the key descriptive term describing the U.S.'s current military If the $400 billion in cuts is by 2023, will the force hollow, or get leaner and meaner? What may put a cut force in Jeopardy? What won't? What money will be available for research and development? If we knew this today, the mysteries would be solved, and the Army's future, one way or the other, would be known.
"It all takes you back to force Tison said. "You want to have a capable force, but how do you balance? If we do get smaller, how do we get better? The challenge is all of this is happening over the summer. When you start to play with it, what makes the most sense with the reduction? These are all questions that have yet to receive answers."