As the Defense Department looks to balance the push for more efficiencies against the need for modernization and to redefine its force structure with rising personnel costs, senior leaders are keeping their eye on the overall strategy despite some reports to the contrary. There is no doubt, the Pentagon is playing a numbers game, and those numbers are getting significantly smaller, but Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said DOD is keeping the overall objective in sight. “We are making strategic choices here. It’s not all cut, cut, cut. We are making deliberate strategic choices about key programs and capabilities that need to go forward so that we have still the finest military in the world,” said Donley during a speech on Capitol Hill on Oct. 20. Air Force personnel costs have grown by more than 80 percent over the last 10 years, “much of that is related to healthcare,” though some can be attributed to higher than-expected pay raises for troops, he said. “This is an area we are going to focus on hard,” he explained. “We are not looking at cutting back on pay and allowances, the issue is what should the growth be moving forward.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.