Pentagon Vows to Protect Arms Makers From Spending Cuts
December 3, 2011
Speaking at a conference of arms investors, US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Brett Lambert recently insisted that the Pentagon would do whatever it takes to ensure that efforts to balance the US government's budget does not harm weapons manufacturers.
Pentagon Vows to Protect Arms Makers From Spending Cuts
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
WASHINGTON (December 2, 2011) -- Speaking today to an investor conference, US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Brett Lambert insisted that the Pentagon would do whatever it takes to ensure that efforts to balance the US government's budget does not harm weapons manufacturers.
Condemning the mandated spending cuts as "fiscal castration," Lambert cautioned that the cuts would destroy America's industrial base, by which of course he means the companies who make weapons for the military.
In reality, the cuts are largely fictional, and cut into the hypothetical budget increases the Pentagon expects in future years. The worst-case scenario brings the Pentagon's budget to 2007 levels. Lambert declined to comment on potential cancellations if the Pentagon was forced to revert to its 2007 spending levels, saying that his office was only interested in the health of the "industrial base" and the impact it would have on merger and acquisition activity among the companies.
Pentagon Vows to Keep Defense Industry Healthy
Andrea Shalal-Esa / Reuters
NEW YORK (December 2, 2011) -- Further massive cuts in US defense spending triggered by the failure of lawmakers to cut deficits would emasculate the US defense industrial base, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday.
The Defense Department was already doing its share to reduce federal deficits and Congress should redouble its efforts to solve the nation's fiscal crisis, Brett Lambert, US deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy, told an investor conference. "We cannot have a strong defense without a strong national economy," Lambert said. "But we will not solve this problem on the back of the Defense Department or on the defense industry."
Lambert is the latest senior Pentagon official to speak out against the dramatic consequences of $600 billion in additional defense spending cuts triggered after a bipartisan congressional committee last week failed to strike a deal to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending by its November 23 deadline.
The committee's failure triggered a process called sequestration, which mandates spending cuts across the government, including about $600 billion to be cut across the board at the Pentagon over the next 10 years. Those cuts are on top of $489 billion the Pentagon is already budgeting for over the next decade. Republican lawmakers have said they hope to reverse the cuts but that could prove difficult until after the 2012 presidential election.
"When I think about it from an industrial base point of view, I think about sequestration more as fiscal castration. It truly will emasculate the industrial base ... if we implemented it as it exists," Lambert told a conference hosted by Credit Suisse and Aviation Week.
As currently structured, the measure would force defense officials to cut spending on procurement as well as research and development by about 27 percent, Lambert said. Lambert reiterated that the Pentagon's fiscal 2013 budget plan, which is being reviewed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week, did not include the additional cuts required under sequestration.
Lambert declined to say if the cuts would result in significant program cancellations, but said his office was being asked to review program decisions from the viewpoint of the health of the industrial base. In general, he said, declining budgets were likely to accelerate merger and acquisition activity in the sector, especially among second- and third-tier companies, he said.
The Pentagon welcomed that level of consolidation, but felt the balance in the top tiers of industry was "about right."
While there were no concrete rules, it would "take some convincing" to approve any mergers on that level, Lambert said. He also reiterated that the Pentagon was not out to squeeze industry profit margins and would reward cost-cutting measures "any way we can."
Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Gunna Dickson
The WW2 Canard:
Pentagon Rails Against Fantasy Cuts
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
WASHINGTON (November 22, 2011) -- If the "supercommittee" fails, the US will have its smallest military force since World War 2. This is the claim that hawks in general and the Pentagon spokesmen in particular have been pushing in an attempt to convince lawmakers, who really don't need all that much convincing when it comes to overspending, that the Pentagon should be immune from any serious "cuts."
And by cuts, of course, we mean cuts in the rate of growth, as the previously announced cuts, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta still complains about at every conceivable opportunity, were taken out of future hypothetical spending increases, backloaded many years down the road.
The World War 2 claim is likewise nonsense, resting on numbers of troops instead of overall expenditures. The electronic, drone-happy US military of 2012 might only have the same number of guys as the force immediately post World War 2, but it will still have a dramatically larger inflation-adjusted budget.
Indeed, the "worst case" scenario, which Pentagon officials are treating as though it is going to cause the world to come to an end, is to bring spending to the level of 2007. The US military would still have a budget several times higher than any other military on the planet, and would rival the rest of the planet combined.
But reports suggest that Panetta et. al aren't even making preparations for how they would spend a 2007-size budget, and instead seem to be focusing their entire effort on ensuring that each new budget is the largest in the history of mankind.
The Pentagon Budget War Plan,
Missing in Action
Jason Ukman and Greg Jaffe / The Washington Post
WASHINGTON (November 22, 2011) -- Is it time for a post-supercommittee war plan?
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday described the failure of the [budget] supercommittee to come up with a deficit-reduction plan as a grave setback. He said he had never been more concerned about the ability of Congress to "forge common-sense solutions to the nation's pressing problems." He also joined President Obama in urging lawmakers to avoid any attempt to roll back the so-called sequester mechanism that would result in an additional $600 billion in automatic cuts.
But what neither Panetta nor congressional leaders have said is how they would actually cope with the cuts if they came to pass.
For months, the Pentagon's top brass has toiled away on a secret strategy document that was supposed to serve as a guide to how best to cut $450 billion from the defense budget over the next decade without endangering national security.
The strategy document, which is still being debated in the Pentagon, calls for a shift away from big, expensive counterinsurgency operations like Iraq and Afghanistan, a substantially smaller Army and Marine Corps and a greater focus on China and Asia, said senior Pentagon officials.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been especially insistent in internal meetings that any cuts to ground forces must be gradual and reversible. But the failure of the supercommittee to reach an agreement could trigger cuts that would make any strategy irrelevant and would turn the Pentagon's meticulously crafted budget process upside down by slashing an additional $600 billion
Over the summer, Panetta told reporters that officials were not drawing up contingency plans to deal with the possibility of the cuts, putting faith instead in the supercommittee. "I'm going to give Congress the opportunity to have this committee work," he said, dismissing a reporter's suggestion that the Defense Department could be caught flat-footed.
Now that the committee clearly hasn't worked, Congress still has time to reach an agreement before mandatory cuts go into effect in January 2013. A senior administration official told The Washington Post's Federal Eye that the Office of Management and Budget "will take necessary steps to ensure that if there is a sequester, the government is prepared for it." But the question is when defense officials will start planning.
"The sequestration bullet is fired in January, but it doesn't arrive until January of the following year," Pentagon spokesman George Little said last week. "That being said, this is a large department, and we would have to plan for those cuts nearly right away."
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