“I believe we’re going to have to begin to reduce force structure immediately and significantly,” she said. “In order to make the immediate $50 billion a year cuts, we are going to have no choice but to gut modernization (of weapons and equipment). The only place to get immediate savings quickly as we bring the force down responsibly is to cut acquisition programs.”
WEAPONS PROGRAMS ON CHOPPING BLOCK
Chief weapons buyer Frank Kendall told the conference that some U.S. weapons programs may face termination if Congress and the Obama administration do not find a way to roll back additional budget cuts, but he declined to say which programs would be particularly vulnerable.
Kendall said the Pentagon would seek to protect some programs, including cybersecurity and Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, if lawmakers gave it some discretion about how additional cuts were implemented. But that meant some other programs might face termination.
Lockheed, Boeing Co, General Dynamics Corp and other big weapons-makers are anxiously waiting for details about which of their programs could be hit, and by how much.
Weapons makers have been laying off workers and consolidating facilities for some time as they brace for the biggest decline in U.S. military spending since the 1990s.
Defense officials have warned that this year’s budget cuts could force them to put up to 800,000 Pentagon civilian workers on unpaid leave for 22 days and would leave a large portion of the military unprepared for combat by the end of the year.
Carter said the Pentagon leadership was “committed to doing everything in our power under this deliberately restrictive law to mitigate its harmful effects on national security.”