The military would be implementing its new Defense strategy even absent the reality of declining budgets, Pentagon officials said.
While the agreement between the White House and Congress to reduce DoD’s planned spending by $487 billion over the next ten years played a role in the department’s new strategic guidance, it is far from being the only factor, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
“I believe we would have done this anyway,” he said. “Even if we weren’t facing fiscal pressure, this is the right time. As we start to transition out of Afghanistan and bring more than ten years of war to a close, this is the right time to look at what we could be doing better and maybe what we don’t need to be doing as much anymore.”
Kirby and Pentagon Press Secretary George Little were guests on Federal News Radio’s On DoD on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The Pentagon was expected to begin revealing specifics of the strategy and its impact on the budgets of 2013 and beyond on Thursday.
In a Pentagon briefing held to release the department’s strategic guidance on Jan. 5, President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sketched the broad outlines of the strategy: a leaner, more agile military; a shift to the Asia-Pacific region; smaller ground forces; the elimination of “cold war weapons systems” that are no longer necessary; and more reliance on technology with an emphasis on increased cyberspace capabilities.
Kirby and Little said the budget announcements would also include plans to begin to get a handle on the military’s ballooning personnel costs.
“Personnel costs equate to roughly 60 to 70 percent of our budget annually, and of all the costs we incur, they rise at a faster rate,” Kirby said. “You can’t have a military without people, and they deserve the best medical care, the best family support and pay and benefits commensurate with their service and sacrifice. So it’s a balance, and we’re working really hard to achieve that balance, but it is absolutely something that you’ll see in budget documents going forward.”