Striving for a Balance

The Pentagon crafted its $614 billion budget proposal for Fiscal 2013 at a time when there is a considerable change in the US military’s overall direction, said senior defense officials on Monday. The Budget Control Act—mandating steep military spending cuts—is now law, the United States has withdrawn from Iraq, and US involvement in Afghanistan is phasing down, said Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale. In order to reach the BCA’s mandated $259 billion in savings over the next five fiscal years, nearly everything under DOD’s ownership was “on the table,” said Lt. Gen. Larry Spencer, head of the Joint Staff’s office of force structure. Among the major changes, the Pentagon is resizing it ground forces to reflect the de-emphasis on prolonged contingency operations requiring a large footprint, said both officials. With about 130,000 personnel coming out of the force structure between Fiscal 2013 and Fiscal 2017, DOD stands to realize about $50 billion in savings, said Hale. It will rebalance and protect key capabilities such as cyber warfare, special operations forces, and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets, said Spencer. The future force will be lean, networked, and technologically advanced, he said. (Hale-Spencer transcript) (DOD Fiscal 2013 budget request overview; caution, large-sized file.)