BRUSSELS, Belgium: Members of Congress from both parties have expressed the opinion that the Defense Department has cut too much or too little from the defense budget.
“In Washington, if you get criticized from both sides, it usually means you have the right position,” Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn said here today.
Though Lynn traveled here to participate in cybersecurity discussions at NATO, he also spoke with reporters about the defense budget and the implications of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ decision to find and reassign $100 billion worth of efficiencies over the next five fiscal years.
“What we’ve tried to do is strike the right balance between fiscal responsibility and what is a very large deficit, and maintaining the critical capabilities we need for national defense,” Lynn said.
The money saved in the efficiencies stay with the services to reinvest in more critical technologies. So, Gates axed or restructured a number of weapons programs, and the services will invest the money saved in cyberdefense, long-range strike capabilities, unmanned aerial vehicles, rocket launchers, ships and refurbishing Army and Marine Corps vehicles stressed and strained by 10 years of war.
“We’ve reinvested across a large range of capabilities,” Lynn said. “We’re reducing layering, we’re reducing headquarters, we’re reducing staff. We were able to develop $78 billion in topline reductions that met some of the deficit reduction needs without compromising defense capabilities. We are moving forward with what we think is a balanced program.
“We think $78 billion was an impressive number, and we were able to accommodate it within the efficiencies,” he continued. “It was a number we developed and worked with the White House. It was aggressive without compromising defense capabilities.”
All NATO nations are facing a budgetary squeeze, Lynn said, and the United States has “some concern about the level of cuts across NATO.” The fiscal pinch, he said, is forcing NATO nations to think about new ways of working together to develop new capabilities.
“Inevitably, [the fiscal problem] leads you toward more burden-sharing,” Lynn said. “I think particularly the smaller nations will move toward not seeking full-spectrum capability, but trying to identify areas where they have a comparative advantage and where they can bring more to the alliance.”