Officials Weigh Resource Priorities During Sequester
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., June 17, 2013 In light of recent budget woes, Defense Department officials are weighing resource priorities and moving toward the decision phase for the fiscal year 2014 budget, a Pentagon official said at the National Defense Industrial Association National Logistics Forum here June 14.
During the strategic choices management review designed to plan a timeline over the next five years, officials will attempt a methodical assessment of the Defense Department’s resources and objectives to avoid broad-stroke cuts, said Mike McCord, the Pentagon’s principal deputy comptroller.
“We want to approach problems as holistically as we can and make decisions that make the best of this bad situation,” McCord said. “Most people feel that there’s a smarter way to do it than across-the-board cuts.”
McCord noted that modernization, readiness and force structure value prioritization remain central to the budget decision process.
“We looked at the kind of trade-offs that people would expect us to look at,” McCord said, “[such as] the impacts of preserving modernization as more of a primary goal to preserving readiness at the expense of modernization and force structure … at the expense of those other two.”
Officials also considered retaining some residual capacity that might be slower to localize or strengthening the force enough to ensure that what remains is ready to deploy and prevail. But if sequestration cuts now in effect for fiscal 2013 continue, he added, the Defense Department won’t be able to do everything the president wants it to do.
“We need to review which of the many objectives we have are the most important to us and separate those that really drive resource decisions from some of those that don’t so much,” McCord said. “We can’t do all the things that the commander in chief wants us to do if we have a permanent sequester level.”
But capability can increase, at least relatively, with greater lead-time, stability in planning and flexibility on how to execute those plans, McCord said.
“We should not wait until the middle of the fiscal year to get those answers as we did this year to find out if the sequester is going to happen or not,” he added.