Most of the big issues facing the Defense Department in 2011 can be boiled down to one word: budget.
A duo of defense experts talked to DoDBuzz about what to look for on the defense horizon for 2011 and mostly agreed that 2010 economic uncertainty and the political grandstanding surrounding setting federal budgets will continue into this year.
The first issue still clouding the 2011 horizon is the lack of an official fiscal-year 2011 budget. A continuing resolution funding DoD’s projects and programs will expire March 4, but that means a snowball effect of budget delays.
“I won’t be surprised to see DoD delay the FY-12 budget submission, because to submit one without knowing FY-11 is bad management, and Secretary Gates will not want to support that,” David Berteau, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told DoDBuzz.
Ground vehicle modernization programs will likely face budget squeezes.
- “Ground vehicle modernization will be the big loser as Congress and the Pentagon balk at high price-tags for the Army Ground Combat Vehicle, Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
CSIS’ Berteau said the parts of DoD that were making progress on Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ round of efficiencies will actually feel the biggest squeezes.
- “Those few parts of DoD who were making Gates’ efficiency initiatives work (and using the savings to fund investment) will now be punished,” Berteau said, “while those who dithered will be rewarded with cuts from a higher base.”
But, Thompson also said the talk of impending budget-cutting for major DoD programs might be premature.
- “The political system is not ready to make tough budgetary choices,” he said, adding there is “almost no political support for cutting entitlements, defense or domestic programs.”
Thompson also predicted demise for in-sourcing, the federal initiative to replace contractors with government workers.
“The high cost of hiring tens of thousands of new civil servants will make large-scale insourcing unaffordable,” he told DoDBuzz.