Sequestration represents close to an 8% cut in the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal 2013. To manage the spending cuts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will require the president’s support to break the historic balance of spending among the services and rein in spending on military pay, benefits and compensation, says Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and a former official at the Office of Management and Budget who helped manage defense cuts in the 1990s. “If the first guideline [for the strategic review] isn’t, ‘Give me options for limited budgets,’ he will be making a big mistake,” Adams said during a March 26 event sponsored by the Project on Defense Alternatives.
Without setting priorities, acquisition dollars and military force structure will be reduced, while the Pentagon bureaucracy will protect itself, Adams says.
And that means major programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the Pentagon’s costliest weapon program – will receive “the contradictory direction of stretch and shrink” by reducing the number of purchases per year as well as the size of the overall fleet. That will keep the JSF alive, in contrast to programs in the other 60% of the acquisition budget that have less visibility, Adams says.