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American Forces Press Service

Military Will Remain Ready, Capable Force, Budget Official Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 15, 2012 – The strategy-based budget proposal sent to Congress earlier this week will help to maintain the world’s finest fighting force capable of defeating any adversary, the Pentagon’s top budget official said yesterday.

“This is a budget plan that is based on a strategy,” said Robert F. Hale, the Defense Department’s comptroller. “It’s a package … that we think is knitted together to provide a military that can quickly confront and defeat any adversary any time, anywhere.”

Speaking at Aviation Week’s Defense Technology and Affordability Requirements Conference here, Hale said the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 budget request proposes changes to manning, force structure and infrastructure for a leaner and responsive military.

“We hope that Congress, as they debate it, will debate it as a whole,” he said.

Hale stressed that the budget request makes more disciplined use of defense resources.

“We recognized we’re going to have to reduce forces and cut back on our investments, and we’re going to do that based on a strategy -- not just across the board,” he said. “There are several goals to that strategy. We know we have to have a leaner force, we know it has to be smaller, but we want it to be agile [and] ready in a period of significant threat.”

Hale noted the Defense Department will look to rebalance its global posture to the Asia-Pacific region and toward the Middle East while maintaining a worldwide presence and strengthening relationships with partners and allies.

“If we have to fight, we’ll fight with partners,” he said. “We know that, so we need to strengthen our alliances.”

The budget request gives a high priority to some investments in the future force and cuts back on other previously projected investments, given the reality of significant reductions in defense spending over the next decade, Hale said.

The Pentagon’s chief financial officer noted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s pledge that he would not break faith with the men and women serving in the military and that he would ensure they are the finest fighting force in the world.

“Overall, we want to do what Secretary Panetta says is a main commitment of his -- we support a military that can quickly confront and defeat aggression from any adversary, any time, anywhere,” Hale said.

Significant reductions in manning, particularly in the Army and Marine Corps, will be spread over the next five years, Hale said.

“If you’re going to make cuts of this magnitude, we’ll have to disestablish units,” he added. “We made force structure reductions that will save in operating costs, personnel costs, and some directly related investments, about $50 billion over the Future Years Defense Program.”

As the military shrinks in numbers and units, Hale said, it also needs to consolidate its infrastructure. The Defense Department has asked Congress for two rounds of base realignment and closure authority in 2013 and 2015, Hale said.

Hale emphasized the goal of the budget proposal is a force that’s prepared to answer the nation’s call despite a new fiscal reality.

“We want this force not to just be leaner and smaller, but also agile and ready,” he said.

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