Other Services Hanging On Too Tight

While Pentagon Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Chief Frank Kendall is pleased with USAF’s approach to its future spending—finding the cash for key future programs by getting smaller now—its sister branches aren’t similarly stepping up, he said Wednesday. Speaking at the COMDEF 2014 conference in Washington, D.C., Kendall said “the other services, I think, are trying to preserve different parts of their force structure; they’re not quite as in balance, perhaps” as the Air Force. The Army, Kendall said, has “made a decision to emphasize endstrength” but “has very little left in terms of modernization … And, I am concerned about that.” The Navy’s “trying to strike a balance” but is too heavily focused on shipbuilding, said Kendall. Now begins a months-long process in which AT&L looks at the services’ budget proposals and tells the branches “all the things” AT&L “thinks should be in the service budgets, and aren’t there.” It’s a zero-sum game, Kendall said. “I’m not accepting any ‘adds’ without ‘subtractions,’” he said. Even if all the POMs were reasonable, Congress’s “answer to everything” needed to pay for modernization—such as a new BRAC, aircraft retirements, and reduced compensation—“seems to be, ‘no,’” Kendall said. He forecasts “a very painful process” trying to properly fund defense in the coming years. The nation “can afford” the defense it needs, he asserted, insisting the Pentagon is not the cause of the nation’s fiscal troubles.