22 Jun 15. No Sequestration ‘Pretty Certain,’ Work says. The number two man at the Pentagon believes a budget deal will be reached to avoid sequestration levels of funding, good news to those in the defense industry who are nervously tracking the budget debate in Washington.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work also said that Russia’s continued aggression in Europe will play a major part in shaping the next budget put forth from the Pentagon. Work said Monday that three months ago he would have thought sequestration was “better than a 50-50 proposition,” but that today he is “pretty certain we won’t get to sequestration-level funding.”
The difference between then and now, he told an audience at the Rand Corp., comes from the actions of Congress in the face of threats by President Barack Obama to veto congressional spending bills.
“Because of the President’s strong veto threat, and because we’ve now demonstrated veto-sustaining votes in the house and senate,” things have changed, Work said. “The whole point of this is to try and encourage both sides of the aisle and both chambers of congress to get together and do another Ryan-Murray-type bipartisan budget agreement. That is the purpose of our strategy. And at least right now, we have set up the conditions for that to occur.”
White House officials have promised a veto on the Senate’s defense authorization measure — and a host of other appropriations bills — over moves by Hill Republicans to use temporary war funds to get around mandatory spending caps on defense funding next year.
Obama and congressional Democrats want a compromise that lifts the spending limits for defense and nondefense spending. In a letter to the Senate earlier this month, White House officials said the war funding move “ignores the long-term connection between national security and economic security” and warrants a veto.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has supported the veto threat, even though the Republicans’ plan would fund military programs at the level administration officials requested earlier this year.
While sequestration may not happen, Work highlighted the uncertainty that prevails over just how much money the Pentagon would get in a new budget deal.
He said history shows such deals tend to end with the department getting 60 percent of what the president asked for, which would leave the Pentagon with about $20bn over the congressionally mandated budget caps — welcome funding, but not nearly what department leadership says it needs to modernize the force while maintaining readiness.
“So it all will be the art of what we give up to free the headspace to address these challenges,” Work said. “I don’t think it is reasonable to expect that [the budget situation is] going to get better in the next two years. They might get better after the next presidential election, depending on who wins and if they run on a strong defense platform or not, but none of us knows. So it’s not something we can count on.” (Source: Defense News)
25 Jun 15. GAO report blasts Air Force justification for A-10 retirement. The Air Force based its plan to retire the A-10 on an inaccurate projection of cost savings, and will run into a capability gap associated with providing close air support, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday. The GAO’s report punches holes in the Air Force’s justification for its controversial decision to retire the attack jet, saying planners did not “fully assess” the cost savings associated with the A-10 divestment. For example, the Air Force’s projection of saving $4.2bn over five years by retiring the jet did not include the increased workload on other aircraft tasked with picking up the slack. On the other hand, the savings could be more, because the Air Force didn’t include savings from canceling software upgrades and other modifications to the aircraft, the GAO said.
“Without a reliable cost estimate, the Air Force does not have a complete picture of the sav