Panetta, Dempsey refute GOP claims of budget dissenters

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rejected on Monday recent GOP allegations that there are unheard budget dissenters to President Obama’s spending request in the Pentagon ranks.

The comments represent the defense leaders’ first reactions to the specific charge made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., two weeks ago as he defended controversial comments by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that senior military leaders did not support Obama’s fiscal 2013 spending request.

“They sure as hell can be given a voice,” Panetta said of any Pentagon dissenters. “We’ve had 50 hearings on the Hill dealing with the budget, in which they’ve been asked questions regarding both the strategy and budget decisions. And the bottom line is that was this was a team effort.”

“The fact that we are unified as a team, with regards to the strategy and the budget, can be an aggravation for some but it happens to be a fact,” he argued, speaking in the Cannon House Office Building at a press conference about military sexual assault.

Earlier in the day at a Pentagon briefing, Panetta argued military and civilian Defense Department leaders "stand unified" behind the strategy and budget.

Since McConnell’s statement, members of the Joint Chiefs have said any such dissention is not at their level. Some conservatives, in declining to name names, have argued that no senior officers would publicly voice their disagreement in the president’s budget after it was introduced to Congress because it would be a career-ending move.

“I’ve never heard of any such thing happening in my entire 38 years. How do I answer that question?” Dempsey said, to laughter. “Look, all I can tell you is what I’ve experienced personally—I don’t see that. And if anybody," he said, turning to the television cameras, "any generals are listening, come and talk to me if you feel that way.”

Dempsey said he agreed with Panetta’s claim that the budget-writing process of last fall was inclusive and open to dissention.

“Dissent was not disloyalty,” Dempsey said Panetta made clear to him at the outset of the budget process. “It’s been a very challenging process, but the climate has been one in where we have been able to cooperate.”

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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