Joint Chiefs nominee warns against deeper defense cuts

As Congress and the White House remain locked in negotiations over competing deficit-reduction plans, President Obama's nominee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday warned against deep cuts to defense spending.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Martin Dempsey said that any efforts to cut more than $400 billion from security accounts over the next 12 years would carry heavy risks for the military.

Obama in April proposed the $400 billion cut to security accounts, for which the Pentagon is expected to be the biggest target. But some in Congress have pushed for far deeper cuts - perhaps more than doubling Obama's plan, although no final number or strategy has yet been agreed to. During a speech on Monday night, Obama was vague on defense, saying only that cuts to the Pentagon would be in the "hundreds of billions of dollars."

A cut in the range of $800 billion "would be extraordinarily difficult and very high risk," Dempsey said on Tuesday.

The four-star general, who was sworn in as Army chief in April and quickly became Obama's pick to be the military's next top officer, said that finding $400 billion in security cuts is difficult. Officials are currently combing through the Pentagon's accounts to find those savings, with plans to wrap up the review this fall.

Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., acknowledged that there are savings to be found in the defense budget. But he criticized the administration for setting a number for security cuts before completing a strategic review.

The Defense Department's budget, which accounts for more than half of all federal discretionary spending, is very much on the table during the ongoing negotiations to increase the debt ceiling. Obama's proposal to cut $400 billion in security spending may ultimately be only a starting point.

Dempsey said that spending cuts would affect the Defense Department's broad budget portfolio, from equipment funds to accounts that pay for operations and training. But he warned that making cuts while the United States is involved in two wars only increases the difficulty of finding significant savings.

"That adds a degree of complexity and a degree of uncertainty that I think we can't discount," he told the committee.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.