The Pentagon must make rejuvenating the Defense Department's acquisition and technology workforce a top priority, Pete Aldridge, the Bush administration's nominee for acquisition chief said at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday. He said that both the expected wave of civil service retirements and downsizing over the last decade could weaken the acquisition workforce if there was no action. "I am concerned about the effects of the reductions on the acquisition workforce. As the department continues to emphasize contracting out and competitive sourcing, the skills training and experience of the acquisition workforce will be critical in effectively managing these contracts," he said. Since 1989, Defense has cut its acquisition and technology workforce by more than half from 310,000 to 150,000. The workforce could be cut in half again by 2005 when more than half of its workers hit retirement age. "The morale of the workforce after 10 years of downsizing is a concern to me, as is having a workforce with the right skills and balances," said Aldridge. Aldridge said he would draw up a strategic human resource plan for the workforce that would expand Web-based training and call for maximum use of hiring and recruiting authorities to attract new talent. Aldridge, an aerospace executive who has held numerous Defense positions including undersecretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration, is expected to win Senate confirmation as the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.