WASHINGTON - The Secretary of Defense announced Jan. 6 a series of efficiencies decisions designed to save the Department of Defense more than $150 billion during the next five years.
According to Secretary Robert M. Gates, the savings would be achieved primarily by reducing overhead costs, improving business practices and culling excess or troubled programs.
Most of the resulting savings will be used by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force to invest in high-priority programs that strengthen warfighting capabilities. The intent of these proposed changes is to improve support to operational forces, and to reprioritize resources to fund the Navy of today while building the Navy of tomorrow.
No fleet area was exempt from this review.
"Secretary Gates charged the Navy and Marine Corps to scrub everything, eliminate the unnecessary or underperforming, find savings, and apply those savings to warfighting," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "We have done that. Hard choices were made, but they were necessary to make certain we are the most efficient and effective fighting force we can be.
"Secretary Gates' leadership has resulted in reasonable and responsible reforms that will ensure the Navy and Marine Corps remain the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known," said Mabus.
"The Navy enthusiastically participated in Department of Defense efficiency efforts," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. "I am pleased with the rigor undertaken throughout this process, the results of which will contribute to the Navy's warfighting capabilities."
A concentrated effort was taken to identify and eliminate excess overhead costs to protect force structure and invest in modernization. In broad terms, military manpower was enhanced by trading overhead staff and shore billets to buy fleet manning requirements. Specifically, the Department of the Navy is proposing to use efficiencies savings to:
- Accelerate development of a new generation of electronic jammers to improve the Navy's ability to fight and survive in an anti-access environment.
- Increase the repair and refurbishment of Marine equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Develop a new generation of sea-borne unmanned strike and surveillance aircraft.
- Purchase more of the latest model F-18s and extend the service life of 150 of these aircraft as a hedge against more delays in the deployment of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
- Purchase additional ships, including a destroyer, a littoral combat ship, an ocean surveillance vessel and fleet oilers.
In order to achieve efficiencies savings of more than $35 billion over five years, the Department of the Navy proposes to:
- Reduce manpower ashore and reassign 6,000 personnel to operational missions at sea.
- Use multi-year procurement to save more than $1.3 billion on the purchase of new airborne surveillance, jamming, and fighter aircraft.
- Disestablish several staffs (but not the associated platforms) to include submarine-, patrol aircraft-, and destroyer-squadrons plus one carrier strike group staff.
- Disestablish the headquarters of U.S. 2nd Fleet at Norfolk, Va., transferring responsibility for its mission to the Navy's Fleet Forces Command, also located in Norfolk, Va.
"The initiatives we have undertaken will allow the Navy to address readiness and warfighting capabilities, optimize organizations and operations and ensure that resources are optimized in operations and maintenance initiatives. These savings and changes will enable us to be the Navy the nation needs today and into the future," said Roughead.
During the Cold War, U.S. 2nd Fleet had distinct and significant operational responsibilities. Disestablishing this command would affect approximately 160 military positions. No ships will change homeport as a result of the disestablishment of 2nd Fleet. The Hampton Roads area, which includes the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, is the location of the world's largest naval station. It is homeport to 77 ships, which includes aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, large amphibious ships, submarines, and a variety of supply and logistics ships, as well as 300 aircraft, 35 aircraft squadrons, 356 tenant commands.
In addition, a number of flag officer billets and Senior Executive Services or equivalent positions will also be eliminated or downgraded. Monetary savings from reductions in senior personnel will be relatively modest and will create fewer, flatter, more agile and effective organizations. Monetary savings from reductions in senior personnel will be relatively modest and will create fewer, flatter, more agile and effective organizations. Furthermore, U.S. Navy Europe, like other service components in which will eventually be reduced to a three-star command, will take place over a longer period because of that command's unique role in the NATO transformation effort.
"This Department simply cannot risk continuing down the same path - where our investment priorities, bureaucratic habits, and lax attitudes towards costs are increasingly divorced from the real threats of today, the growing perils of tomorrow, and the nation's grim financial outlook," said Gates, at the conclusion of the announcement.
"These times demand that all of our nation's leaders rise above the politics and parochialism that have too often plagued considerations of our nation's defense - whether from inside the Pentagon, from industry and interest groups, and from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other," he said. "I look forward to working through the next phase of the President's defense reform effort with the Congress in the weeks and months ahead - to do what's right for our armed forces and what's right for our country."