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Modernization Plan Will Help DoD Maintain Military

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 1996 – DoD's modernization plans will upgrade military readiness while supporting efforts to balance the federal budget, Deputy Defense Secretary John P. White said recently.

Speaking before the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, White said what counts is how DoD spends its money on modernization, not how much. He said DoD is building the nation's defense on both fiscal and national security reality.

"Gone are the days when anybody could seriously propose to increase defense spending, cut taxes and balance the budget all at the same time," said White. "Today, deficit reduction has taken precedence, and the administration and Congress have agreed to balance the budget in seven years. Rather than simply asking for more money, we are spending our money more efficiently and effectively and passing the savings on to modernization."

During the U.S. forces drawdown, he said, DoD maintained modern equipment despite low procurement levels by weeding out older equipment. With the end of the drawdown, he said, the modernization reprieve is over.

He said DoD's budget request includes a new equipment procurement program that starts at nearly $39 billion in fiscal 1997 and increases steadily to total more than $250 billion over the next five years.

While maintaining fiscal responsibility, White said, DoD's modernization plan will preserve the U.S. military's land, sea and air dominance.

DoD will accomplish this through four technology strategies. "First, we are emphasizing leap-ahead technology to give us new warfighting capabilities," said White. "Leap-ahead technology is the very heart and soul of our major new systems, such as the joint strike fighter, the new attack submarine, the Comanche helicopter." He also mentioned the F/A-18E and -F and the V-22 Osprey.

White said another DoD strategy is to accelerate cost-effective upgrades to existing systems. That includes adding new advanced technology components to the M-1 Abrams tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the F-14 aircraft and the Apache helicopter.

White said new technology sometimes creates whole new weapons. The Abrams tank upgrade, for instance, adds 120mm guns and better armor, and also digitization and position navigation equipment, making it the most effective tank in history, he said.

He also cited DoD's Joint Direct Attack Munitions Program, which will convert all 1,000-pound "dumb" bombs into "smart" bombs by fitting them with devices that guide them using global positioning satellites.

A third strategy is investing in what White called power-projection systems. He said major priorities include multiyear procurement of the C-17 transport aircraft, improved amphibious lift through the LPD-17 class, rapid sealift and pre-positioning ships, and Aegis guided missile cruisers.

Finally, White said DoD is investing in technology to enhance battlefield situation awareness. This includes satellites, unmanned drones and airborne radar to locate targets precisely. It also includes communications and navigation systems to synthesize all collected information into one big picture of the battlefield.

The deputy defense secretary said in spite of the drawdown, U.S. forces are well-trained, well-equipped and ready. "I believe in this defense plan," said White. "It provides for modernization investments that will maintain our air, sea and land dominance. And built into the plan are savings and efficiencies that will allow us to afford our modernization investment. We have a strong program and the right priorities that will ensure the defense and security of our nation into the next century."

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