The future of weapons modernization programs hangs in the balance as the Pentagon prepares to cut up to $450 billion in spending over the next decade, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said in an interview Monday.
“Its clear we’re going to have to trim modernization programs to some degree and it’s clear we’re going to have to take a careful look at military compensation and benefits,” said Lynn, who will step down as the Pentagon’s No. 2 ranking civilian on Wednesday.
Lynn also said a move toward smaller force structures is in the works, but that cyber warfare and long-range strike capabilities will not feel the same brunt of spending cuts.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to have to do more on cyber … even in this budget environment,” Lynn said. “I think it’s likely that we’re going to want to have improvements in our long-range strike capability to be able to deal with area denial and anti-access strategies.”
Lynn made the remarks in the wake of a day-long meeting between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other military officials, including the service secretaries, undersecretaries, chiefs and combat commanders. Lynn said the meeting was substantive and established some framework for implementing the Budget Control Act, which calls for $350 billion to $450 billion in defense spending cuts by 2023.
Ashton Carter, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, will take over Lynn’s role after Lynn steps down.