WASHINGTON --- The fiscal 2014 defense budget request will be a chance for the department to adjust funding to support the defense strategic guidance issued in January this year, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said here yesterday.
The admiral spoke at the Atlantic Council’s Commanders Series.
“We are continuing to filter and refine the decisions we made … last year,” Winnefeld said. “It is going on now and it is going on pretty well.”
Winnefeld took office the same day that Congress passed the Budget Control Act -- Aug. 4, 2011. “I arrived in this job at the high-water mark of the defense budget for the last 20 years,” he said.
Defense leaders had already termed the national deficit as a threat to national security, he said, noting that DOD will do its part to reduce it. “We would forcefully state that we are not necessarily the cause of this problem, but we all need to pitch in,” he said.
Since 9/11, the department had virtually unlimited resources, the admiral said.
“Now we’re in a different place, and as Winston Churchill said, ‘Gentlemen, we’re out of money, and now we have to think,’” he added.
Under the old strategy, cutting $489 billion out of the department over 10 years increased the risk to the nation, Winnefeld said. DOD leaders needed to work together to examine the department’s core missions, he said, and how to accomplish those missions with declining resources..
“We knew we had to link strategy with the budget-making process,” the admiral said.
At the same time, leaders had to account for changes in warfare, he said. This included changes across the range of combat bred by the efficacy of networks to speed awareness. It also included understanding the benefits interagency partners provide to the military and the importance of cross-service cooperation at all levels.
On the equipment side, the strategy had to consider the effect of unmanned vehicles, cyber capabilities, stealth technology and the contributions of “the best people we have ever had in the U.S. military,” Winnefeld said. The talent that young people bring to the military was actually folded into the new strategy, he said.
The plan made a number of changes in a shift to the Pacific, the emphasis on cyber operations, being able to project power and increased emphasis on efficiency in the department, he said. The strategy keeps the counterterrorism force robust and retains the nuclear deterrent, Winnefeld noted.
The strategy calls for less emphasis on long-term stability operations, the admiral said.
“The way President [Barack] Obama has put it was, ‘Give me fewer Iraqi Freedoms and more Desert Storms,’” Winnefeld said. “The point was, go in, do the ‘defeat,’ and get the job done. Don’t end up there for 10 years trying to do nation building. We’re just not going to be allowed to do that. We can’t afford it.”
The guidance took three months to publish, and then leaders used this guidance to build the fiscal 2013 DOD budget request. “It was the first time in my career that I have seen such a tight connection between the strategy document … to ‘means’ decisions -- the things we were going to buy or not buy,” the admiral said.
The bottom line, he said, is that the strategy covers national interests -- the security of the United States and its citizens; a strong U.S. economy; respect for universal values; and an international order that promotes peace, stability and security through stronger cooperation.
Senior leaders measure their decisions against this strategy, Winnefeld said, and will continue to do so with the new budget.
Winnefeld said he’s optimistic that Congress will avoid sequestration, but if it takes place and the department has to cut another $500 billion from the budget, then the strategic guidance could be made moot. A new plan would have to be drawn up, increasing the risk to the nation, the admiral said.