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FCW : April 30, 2014
20 April 30, 2014 FCW.COM Capitol Hill to tamper with planned moves to reduce personnel costs, accord- ing to a report in Navy Times. "If you choose to roll them back," he warned, "you ll have to take the money out of somewhere else." In recent decades, lawmakers have repeatedly balked at what DOD officials have described as essential decisions to reduce bases and other facilities at home and abroad. The problem has grown with recent troop cuts overseas and the bitter con icts that accompanied the most recent base realignment and closure review in 2005. Hagel has urged Congress to authorize a new BRAC review that would end in 2017. He told reporters that if Congress does not cooperate, he might make internal changes to reduce infra- structure. "Sequestration requires cuts so deep, so abrupt, so quick- ly that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough," Hagel said. But lawmakers receive intense pressure from local commu- nities that are reluctant to lose the economic boost of military bases in the U.S. Furthermore, at Washington-area conferences that have included many military contractors, top DOD of cials have outlined the challenges they face when buying IT and services. "It struck me how incredibly com- plicated it was, how dif cult it was for program managers to just make their way through that maze," said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He lamented the dif culty of going through the legislative process and set low objectives for the coming year. "We ll try to get low-hanging fruit," he said and added that lawmakers tenden- cy to "keep adding statutory require- ments year over year over year, all try- ing to improve things...just makes the burden on program managers huge." Sequestration still looms Given the limited political reward for dealing with such issues, most law- makers prefer to focus on broader and more newsworthy stories. The Rus- sian invasion of Crimea presented that opportunity, along with continuing hot spots in Syria, Iran and the Korean peninsula. When Hagel appeared before the House Appropriations Committee s Defense Subcommittee in mid-March to discuss his budget plan, which he said "begins to make the hard choices that we re all going to have to make," he updated his testimony to include recent developments in Ukraine. Nevertheless, several panel members broadened the discussion to other ongoing con icts. "We need to work together to help the Department of Defense address very serious challenges, from ending major combat operations in Afghani- stan to addressing enduring threats from North Korea and Iran and ash- points in the Middle East, Africa and Asia," Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) told Hagel. She also noted that many lawmakers remain concerned about sexual assaults, suicide and the quality of life in the military. Adding to the Pentagon s problems with congressional oversight has been the recent turnover of senior congres- sional leaders in both parties, most notably on the appro- priations subcommittees. In addition, the pending retirements of the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees --- McKeon and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) --- will lead to big leadership shifts and organizational changes at the end of the year. House Republican leaders willing- ness to leapfrog seniority in selecting new committee chairmen adds to the internal competi- tion and tensions. But the current front- runners for their parties slots --- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) --- are both regarded as cerebral and experienced in dealing with military and security issues. For Pentagon of cials in particular, getting to know prospective chairmen is very important. Despite the two-year suspension of the budget sequester, the timetable that was created in a 2011 budget deal is scheduled to resume next year, which is a daunting scenario. "Our detailed planning for sequestra- tion-level cuts showed that sequestra- tion would impose some force struc- ture reductions that simply can t be implemented with the push of a but- ton," Hagel told the House Appropria- tions Committee. "They require...lon- ger time horizons in planning." Unfortunately, recent history shows that long-term planning is not lawmak- ers strong suit. ■ "We need to work together to help the Department of Defense address very serious challenges." REP. NITA LOWEY (D-N.Y.) AP IMAGES
April 15, 2014
May 15, 2014