U.S. Strategic Interests Tied to Financial Well-Being

January 24, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The U.S. Defense Department will "do its part" to bring the U.S. fiscal house in order, said a member of the Joint Staff. Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, director, the Joint Staff, said that the nation's financial crisis is a "strategic vulnerability" for which the department must join the rest of the country in belt tightening. "We need to do two things: spend less and bring in more revenue," the admiral declared in the kickoff address at West 2012 in San Diego. He noted that after World War II ended, the huge national debt built up by that conflict was largely owned by the American people. Now, however, foreign nations own a substantial amount of existing debt. Current defense planners are not just deconstructing the force to meet budget limits, he stated. Planners are focusing on building the future force as a part of this effort so that the military can continue to meet its responsibilities through the year 2020. Looking at his own service, Adm. Gortney said that the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps "fare better than one might expect," in the age of cuts. He emphasized that this is a function of the new strategic outlook, and he cited Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's recent statements that the Navy will keep its full complement of carrier groups. However, if mandatory budget cuts kick in, the consequences for the entire department could be severe. "It's going to be a very grim picture if that occurs-very grim," the admiral said of the possibility of mandatory cuts. "I cannot predict what will happen after the elections. We will have to redo the strategy if that occurs," he warned.

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