Reaping the Rewards of Efficiency

Of the $100 billion in savings collectively identified by the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy, the four services will apply $28 billion of that over the next five fiscal years “to deal with higher than expected operating expenses,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday. “Frankly, using the savings this way was not my original intent or preference, but we have little choice but to deal with these so-called ‘must-pay’ bills—and better to confront them honestly now than through raiding investment accounts later,” he explained during a Pentagon press briefing. Those funds will help defray the costs of health care, pay and housing allowances, weapon systems sustainment, depot maintenance, base support, and flight hours, he said. The Air Force will apply its chunk of the remaining $70 billion to buy more Reaper remotely piloted aircraft and move essential intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance programs from the temporary war budget to the permanent baseline budget, said Gates. The Air Force also will increase procurement of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles; modernize the radar on the F-15 “to keep this key fighter viable well into the future;” and buy more simulators for F-35 aircrew training, he said. (Gates-Mullen transcript)