Budget cuts vs. Strike Fighter

The confirmation hearing of Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of Defense, highlighted the dilemma the Defense Department is facing. On the one hand, DOD must cut billions of dollars in spending. On the other hand, it has to maintain combat readiness and, perhaps most importantly politically, keep the support of members of Congress whose constituents are in need of jobs and economic gains.

So it's not surprising that during his confirmation hearing, Carter pledged his best efforts to cut defense spending by more than $300 billion in the next 10 years while also pledging his full support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) had threatened to stall Carter's nomination until Carter assured him of his commitment to the program, Foreign Policy reports. Lockheed Martin builds the F-35s in Texas.

During the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter vowed that if confirmed, he would work closely with Congress to identify and recommend cuts and savings that could realistically be implemented to help avoid the sweeping cuts that will kick in if a so-called super committee fails to pass a plan by mid-October to trim the federal budget.

However, those recommendations are supposed to be based on the results of a broad internal DOD review, which Carter said is now behind schedule. But the automatic cuts that would result from the super committee’s inability to agree on a strategy would be draconian, Carter said. He warned more than once that if the $500 billion-plus, across-the-board automatic cuts to defense spending were enacted under the sequestration process, it would be devastating to the military.

“Just the scale of it alone would lead us to have to consider truly draconian things: abandoning major weapons systems, furloughing civilian employees and abruptly curtailing training because we couldn’t pay for fuel, and so forth,” Carter said. “When we say ‘disastrous,’ that’s the kind of disaster we mean.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.