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General: President, Military Insisted on Strategy-driven Budget

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2012 – The new defense strategy guidance laid out by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta last month is a blueprint for the budget proposal President Barack Obama will announce next week, the vice commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said.

“Before this went into print, all of the concepts captured in this strategy were at the forefront of the minds of the people that built the budget,” Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold said during a Feb. 7 panel discussion at the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium and Exhibition.

“It’s relatively a new strategy, but I have to tell you that I walked the halls and watched this strategy [being] built,” he said.

“If I foot stomp one thing in here,” he said, indicating a particular point to pay attention to, “it’s that the budget that was put together is a strategy-driven budget.”

“This was not a salami slice [as in] ‘OK, a third, a third, a third – services go figure it out,’” Heithold said. “This was strategy driven.”

The general said people sitting on his budget panels were in direct communication with White House officials to ensure that the strategy and the budget were aligned.

Heithold explained three points from the document for the SOLIC audience:

--After 10 years of war, the United States and our military are at a strategic inflection point.

“We are at an inflection point,” Heithold said. “Think about it. The Iraq War – over, essentially. The Afghanistan mission is evolving from us leading U.S./NATO efforts to a handoff after 10 years.”

--Americans don’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and strong national security.

“In some cases, the force will be smaller, but more potent and more effective,” he said.

--The Defense Department can become more efficient.

“That’s what we talk about [when we say] we don’t have to make a choice, necessarily,” Heithold said. “We can actually have a strong national defense that is different and still not require as much resources.”

The general emphasized that the president and uniformed leaders agreed on the direction of the budget.

“As I mentioned, the president insisted over and over, as did we in uniform, by the way, that we have a strategy-driven budget,” he said.

Heithold noted that combatant commanders also were involved with the strategy guidance. He reviewed the 10 points listed in the document as the military’s primary missions:

--Counter terrorism and irregular warfare;

--Deter and defeat aggression;

--project power despite anti-access/area denial challenges;

--Counter weapons of mass destruction;

--Operate effectively in cyberspace and space;

--Maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent;

--Defend the homeland and provide support to civilian authorities;

--Provide a stabilizing presence;

--Conduct stability and counterinsurgency operations;

--Conduct humanitarian, disaster relief and other operations.

“The new defense strategy was that blueprint,” Heithold said. “Let there be no question in your minds that the senior leaders up to the commander-in-chief were involved in defining the strategy.”


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Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold

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