Strategic Relevance Essential in Deciding on Cuts

May 12, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The most brutal facts of current reality must be confronted, and that starts with the national debt where we are borrowing 40 cents on a dollar right now, said Raymond Haller, senior vice president and director of The MITRE Corporation's Department of Defense, Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence federally funded research and development center, speaking on a panel on budget issues at the AFCEA/USNI Joint Warfighting conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Haller suggests we are looking at a perfect storm right now with the $400 billion over 12 years in cuts being only a floor, with negotiations facing targets as high as $900 billion over 10 years. This will require not only cutting programs but finding overhead savings on headquarter staff, closing overseas bases and reducing contactor services. Contractor services in the military budget, for the first time, are equal to contracts for products, he explained. Strategic relevance will be the acid test. "If you are not relevant and don't have a value added then you might be in trouble," he warned. Contractor cuts will be in personnel areas, but the military will still be buying things and ideas. "Companies providing people who flip badges when they retire will have problems," according to the panel moderator Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, senior adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Senior Fellow, CNA Corporation former comptroller, Department of Defense. Beyond cuts in contracting, the services must define mission in the post-Iraq/Afghanistan world and then link the means and technology to accomplish the mission. All will be designed to cost, said RAdm. Jay M. Cohen, USN (Ret.), former Under Secretary for Science and Technology, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, former Chief of Naval Research. In a post-war world, the United States will not be recapitalizing, but we will be reconstituting, he suggested. Aircraft and other vehicles will be stripped, and those companies that can put things into the existing holes will prosper, predicted the admiral. The future will be different, strategically, because we have no interest that justifies our forces over the long term to building nations where none exist, stressed Col. Douglas Macgregor, USA (Ret.), author. He added that our nation and our leaders have no appetite to put ground forces in Libya.

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