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Carter: Defense Industry Interests Align With Those of DOD

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2013 – The long-term interests of the defense industry and the Defense Department are aligned, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a May 3 awards ceremony in McLean, Va.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivers remarks after being honored with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award and Medal by the National Defense Industrial Association at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in McLean, Va., May 3, 2013. The annual award recognizes leadership and strategic impact at the highest levels of national security. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

At the ceremony, Carter received the Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association. The award recognizes leadership and strategic impact at the highest levels of national security, according to an NDIA news release.

The success of the U.S. defense industry is in the nation’s interest, Carter told the audience.

Though President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address in 1961 warned of the dangers of an outsized military-industrial complex, Carter said, the warning has been removed from its context. As a former Army general and supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, Eisenhower clearly understood the vital role played by the defense industry in securing the nation, the deputy secretary noted.

"The larger point of his farewell address was that the interests of the country are served when leaders take the long view," he continued. Only by properly aligning ends with means in accordance with national interests, rather than special interests, can national leaders achieve the balance Eisenhower sought, Carter said.

Eisenhower advocated "balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped-for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual [and] balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future," Carter said, quoting from the president’s farewell address.

"He went on to say, 'Maintaining balance involves the element of time, as we peer into society's future. We -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow,'" he said.

The Defense Department is taking the long view, Carter said, understanding that it is operating at the convergence of two great historical trends. The first -- a time of unprecedented strategic change -- led President Barack Obama to make clear in the new defense strategy that "we're turning a strategic corner," the deputy secretary said. The second -- historic levels of financial turbulence -- will require the department to absorb reductions in defense spending in the interest of the nation's overall fiscal health, he said.

The country is moving from an era dominated by two wars toward a future defined by disparate challenges and opportunities, Carter said.

“We know what many of these challenges are -- continued turmoil in the Middle East, the persistent threat of terrorism, enduring threats like weapons of mass destruction and a range of new threats like cyber,” the deputy secretary said.

With the challenges come great opportunities, he said. Among them, Carter noted, is shifting the Defense Department’s great intellectual and physical weight from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Asia-Pacific region, "where America's future ... will lie, and where America will continue and must continue to play a seven-decade-old pivotal, stabilizing role.

"As we draw down from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our force needs to make a very difficult transition," Carter continued, "from a large, rotational counterinsurgency-based force, to a leaner, more agile, more flexible and ready force for the future."

There was nothing wrong with the force the nation built for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Carter told the audienced. "It was the right force for the period," he added, noting that the Afghanistan conflict is not over. "We can't ever forget that that still remains job one, but we're going into a different period," he said.

The department's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region is predominately a political and economic concept, not a military one, the deputy secretary said. But, the Defense Department's role is to enable the continuation of the region's 60 years of peace and prosperity, he said, often by simply leading by example. "We believe that our strong security presence in the Asia-Pacific has provided a critical foundation for our principles to take root," Carter said.

"Our partners in the region welcome our leadership and the values that underlie them,” he added, “and therefore, I believe that our rebalance will be welcomed and reciprocated."

The rebalance isn't aimed at any one country, or group of countries, in the region, Carter noted. "It's good for us, and it's good for everyone in the region, and it includes everyone in the region."

If managed properly, the department's budget reductions and the nation's strategic shift can reinforce one another, he said.

"That is the task before us in the Department of Defense," the deputy secretary said. "We know, that in making this strategic transition, we only deserve the amount of money we need, and not the amount we've gotten used to. That's why, well before the current budget turmoil, we made reductions to the department's budget by $487 billion over the coming decade."

Other cuts were made earlier under former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to eliminate unneeded or underperforming programs, Carter said. Additionally, overseas contingency operations funds are decreasing now that the military has left Iraq and is drawing down from Afghanistan, he said.

"Taken together, these reductions compare in pace and magnitude to historical cycles in defense spending the nation has experienced ... after Vietnam and after the Cold War,”the deputy secretary said. “We need to continue our relentless effort to make every defense dollar count."

The department is committed to this effort, he added, noting that "everything will be on the table" during an ongoing review of strategic choices and management. The results of the review will be delivered to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the coming weeks, Carter said.

"The choices that the secretary and the president make in response to these points in the following months will then inform our [fiscal year 2015] budget submission, as well as our [fiscal 2014] execution decisions," he added. "Ideally, we will have all three elements -- stability, time and flexibility -- with which to make critical budget decisions, but we must anticipate a wide range of possible contingencies."

Tough choices will be necessary in the years to come, Carter acknowledged, -- and will have significant impact on the United States, particularly if deep spending cuts required by the budget sequester remain in force.

“These tough choices, by necessity, must favor national interests over parochial priorities,” he said. “What we cannot afford, as President Eisenhower said, is a debate in which people are in favor of sequester, but just not in their own back yard.

"Fiscal ‘NIMBY-ism’ is exactly the wrong policy prescription for what ails us," the deputy secretary said.


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