Bloomberg News

Panetta Calls for Service ‘Teamwork’ to Weather Budget Storms

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today called on the military services to bury their parochial budget perspectives and work as a team to find at least $450 billion in savings through 2021.

Panetta, in the prepared text for an address this morning to the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, said budget pressures shouldn’t set off an inter-service resource war that undercuts a decade of Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force combat cooperation and war-fighting lessons.

“It will need to be a smaller military, we will need to sacrifice some capabilities and curtail some commitments,” Panetta said. “But we cannot render null and void the hard- learned lessons of 10 years of war, we cannot afford to ignore essential capabilities we have let lapse and we absolutely cannot allow budget pressures to force the services into parochialism and program survival mode,” he said.

Yesterday, Panetta urged Congress in a speech in Washington to resist the urge to protect favored bases and and weapons systems as the Pentagon reviews its strategies, roles and missions to inform the budget reductions.

He delivered a similar message today to the military services. The country needs a budget process where “our military leaders will do what’s best for the entire force, not just what’s best for their own service,” he said.

Panetta reiterated that “tough decisions await us, decisions that will incur risk and will prey upon things and programs and even some ideas we hold dear. We can’t let the spirit of teamwork also fall victim.”

Few Details

Panetta still has given little detail about the potential strategic options and program reductions the Pentagon is considering. He is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the House Armed Services Committee, where he likely will be pressed to disclose more.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Robert Lennox said Tuesday the Army’s share of defense spending cuts may translate to between $12 billion and $14 billion a year.

The Army already plans to shrink the number of active-duty soldiers to about 520,000 from about 570,000 today.

Because the size of the force can’t be reduced quickly to offset spending reductions, “the brunt of those cuts will come in modernization and training,” said Lennox, deputy chief of staff for weapons programs. “It’s just math.”

Panetta told the Army gathering that the U.S. will retain a force capable of defeating any land foe.

“If the enemy challenges us in a conventional land war, we need an Army that can, as General George Patton used to say, ‘hold the enemy by the nose and kick them in the ass,’” Panetta said.

--Editors: Steven Komarow, Bob Drummond

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net -0- Oct/12/2011 05:03 GMT


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