Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work stated on Tuesday that if Congress doesn’t negotiate with the Pentagon to come to a reasonable solution, budget cuts from sequestration stand to kill the United States’ military technological advantage.
“Sequestration will prevent us from executing a strategy that we think is in the best interests of the United States at this point in time,” Work said at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2015 WEST Conference, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) press release.
“For all of the people who say this isn’t a strategy-driven budget, I’d say, ‘Just wait. Wait until you see what happens if we go to sequestration,’” Work added.
Work also made specific reference to the threat of Russia and China rapidly moving into “hyper-drive” in terms of military research and development.
Congress has protested the prioritization of technology over funding for personnel and facilities every step of the way, and this year’s budget forwarded by the Obama administration, given its clear focus on innovation, only serves to heighten the tension between the two sides. The $534 billion dollar budget the White House submitted in early February breaches sequestration limits set out in The Budget Control Act by $36 billion. To ensure that military technology receives priority, the Pentagon has proposed two options to Congress, the first of which involves launching another round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2017 to end unneeded bases. (RELATED: Congress Set To Fight Obama’s Plan To Close More Military Bases)
The second option is to slash personnel pay, but military groups have been quick to raise havoc, as pay raises are already the lowest they’ve been in 50 years for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Instead of the 2.3 percent rate in the private sector, raises are listed at 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, total pay and benefits for servicemembers listed in the budget amount to $178.9 billion dollars, a figure which is down by 2 percent. (RELATED: Obama’s Defense Budget: Nothing But Disappointment For Servicemembers)
“So, we believe that our technological superiority is eroding, and that’s one of the things we wanted to address in this budget,” Work stated, hinting at the $177.5 billion dollars allocated in the budget for research. The figure for research is 13 percent higher than last fiscal year’s budget and signals the Pentagon’s fear that it might be out-innovated by countries like Russia and China, where relations have been tense.
When broken down further, $3 billion will head to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and $26.4 billion will go the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which aims to modernize DOD systems. Secret projects will receive $18.8 billion. According to Defense One, this represents a 7 percent increase from 2015.
Defense industry firms are paying close attention to how negotiations between the Obama administration and Congress unfold.
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