Gates to Brief on Pentagon Savings, Cuts

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce about $100 billion in specific budget savings as well as some program cuts by the end of the week. Reuters reports that these announcements possibly could include a new restructuring of the F-35 strike fighter program, adding up to two more years to the aircraft’s development schedule on top of the 13 months already tacked on under last year’s revamp. The F-35 is the Pentagon’s largest weapons acquisition project. DOD officials have been working for months under and an efficiency initiative to identify excess Pentagon overhead to eliminate in order to free up billions of dollars from within DOD’s budget for modernization and personnel. Gates also has said he intends to eliminate or scale back programs that are poorly managed, not performing, or redundant. Defense Department officials would not elaborate on Gates’ pending decisions, telling Reuters that they would come “at an appropriate time.” Despite the Pentagon’s best efforts, DOD might not be able to keep all of the funds that it saves. Instead, the White House may take some portion of that money back to help reduce the federal budget deficit.