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American Forces Press Service

Shrinking DOD Budget Could Jeopardize Readiness, Officials Say

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2014 – In remarks at the Defense Communities 2014 National Summit yesterday, Pentagon officials described how force structure reductions will impact the Defense Department and industry partners amid ongoing budget woes and sequestration.

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Alan F. Estevez and Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment John Conger warned that a lack of modernization and procurement investments could shrink the industrial base and jeopardize readiness.

"We're struggling to get ourselves in the balance [but] one of the ways to get in balance is to divest ourselves of unneeded infrastructure," Estevez said. "The dialogue has to start if you want to have that national security military force that this nation deserves."

Meanwhile, Estevez said the department is driving its own efficiencies internally, but certain cuts such as a projected 15 percent procurement paring could jeopardize the force's technological superiority over time, particularly in terms of the DOD's ties to the industrial base.

"We're very concerned about what happens with our industrial base in this environment because the Department of Defense does its own [research, development, test and evaluation], but we rely on industry as well," Estevez said.

DOD officials will also review the services acquisition process, Estevez noted. "We spend $360 billion a year to acquire things and services, and services is about $180 billion of that spend," he said.

He explained that while there is an elaborately structured process designed around buying things such as aircraft, satellites and other equipment, services has historically been less defined as it relates to the DOD.

"We're trying to put some rigor around [services]," Estevez said. "We're looking at what's the best tradecraft in maintenance, [internet technology], and engineering and putting it all into practice."

Even savings of ten percent in such areas could yield billions in savings, he added.

Conger insists that sequestration and its associated rigors is "the new normal" and while the conversation about base realignment and closure continues, it should not end there.

"We think saving money is an important thing to do, but BRAC isn't going to solve our problems like some magic ball," Conger said. "We have budget problems and we're going to have to look for efficiencies."

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