Secretary of Defense

Some officials encourage BRAC to save mission readiness

March 18, 2015

 

Infrastructure Funding Level Poses Risk, Officials Say

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2015 – Service officials responsible for infrastructure described for Congress yesterday a need throughout the Defense Department for infrastructure reduction and improved funding for military construction.

Representatives from all four military services told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee that budget cuts have harmed mission readiness by delaying repairs and improvements to infrastructure. And each cited a deep need for a new base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC, to eliminate excess infrastructure.

The alternative to a new BRAC round is to make up for funding shortages in ways that will increase risk, said Army Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, assistant chief of staff for installation management and commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.

Excess capacity will only increase as end strength declines, the officials noted. The Army’s facility capacity is 18 percent greater than it needs, Halverson said. Air Force Brig. Gen. Timothy S. Green, deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support and Air Force director of civil engineers said his service’s excess capacity stands at 30 percent of the total infrastructure.

Will BRAC realign infrastructure capacity with mission requirements?

“We believe BRAC will provide the most comprehensive, transparent and collaborative way to align infrastructure capacity with mission requirements,” Green said.

Army Infrastructure

“The Army is at a critical point in installation readiness,” Halverson said. “Sequestration … is affecting the Army’s ability to provide facilities that our all-volunteer soldiers and their families rely and depend upon to sustain readiness and maintain their quality of life.” Sequestration is a term used for deep spending cuts scheduled to take effect in October unless Congress changes the budget law.

The Army’s funding request is the minimum to meet its essential requirements, Halverson told the subcommittee. “Our request focuses [military construction] investments on supporting readiness initiatives and revitalizing failed facilities,” he said.

“Although we are asking for a 26 percent increase in the [fiscal year 2015] military construction, family housing and base closure activities, it is important to note that the $1.6 billion request is a 33 percent reduction from [fiscal 2014] and a 55 percent reduction from [fiscal 2013],” Halverson added. “Any further reductions will put us at the brink of breaking our soldiers’ trust that we will provide them the right resources to prepare for any contingency.”

Navy Infrastructure

Budget shortfalls over the past few years have forced the Navy to reduce funding to shore infrastructure to preserve fleet operational readiness, Erin M. Kern, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, told the senators.

“As a result, many of our shore facilities are degrading at an accelerated rate,” she said. “At sequestration levels, this risk will be exacerbated and the condition of our shore infrastructure — including piers, runways and mission-critical facilities — will further erode. We will run a greater risk of mishaps, serious injury and health hazards to personnel.”

The Navy hasn’t yet recovered from sequestration in fiscal year 2013, Kern told the subcommittee.

“Our 2016 budget request funds the sustainment, restoration and modernization of our facilities only enough to arrest the immediate decline in condition of our most critical infrastructure,” she said.

Marine Corps Infrastructure

The Marine Corps’ first priority is to reinforce the near-term readiness capabilities of deployed Marines, said David R. Clifton, deputy assistant deputy commandant for facilities, installations and logistics and deputy commander of Marine Corps Installations Command.

“To accomplish that priority in fiscal year ’16, the Marine Corps must accept risk in our infrastructure and base operations, including our quality of life programs,” he said.

The infrastructure funds will go toward improved safety, security and environmental compliance, replacing aging infrastructure and demolishing inadequate, unneeded buildings, Clifton told the senators.

“Funding remains insufficient to prevent accelerated deterioration of our 12,000 buildings, range complexes, barracks and airfields,” he noted.

Air Force Infrastructure

“The Air Force’s $1.6 billion request is 65 percent higher than last year, but the projects to be funded support the national defense strategy and critical Air Force priorities,” Green said.

Without relief from sequestration, the Air Force could expect reductions in infrastructure funding that would touch every level of national security strategy, he said.

“It would likely result in reduced funding to support combatant commands, upgrade critical nuclear infrastructure, ensure facilities are in place for our modernized weapons systems as well as recapitalization of housing and dormitories,” Green added. “The Air Force would expect similar reductions in [fiscal 2016] facility sustainment, restoration and modernization accounts, forcing us to prioritize day-to-day maintenance activities at the expense of much-needed facility repairs.”

The Air Force’s fiscal year 2016 budget request allows it to begin addressing necessary infrastructure recapitalization and facility sustainment and repair backlogs that have contributed to the degradation of its combat support capabilities, Green said.

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=128390

 

Ash Carter takes Oath of Office in White House Ceremony

February 17, 2015

 
Ash Carter takes oath of office in white house ceremony. Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow.

Ash Carter takes Oath of Office in White House Ceremony

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2015 – With his wife, Stephanie, holding the Bible upon which he swore to support and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, Ash Carter took the oath of office as the 25th secretary of defense in a ceremony at the White House today.

Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath in the Roosevelt Room, characterizing Carter as a genuine scholar of strategic military affairs and nuclear weapons policy and as a profoundly capable manager “with universal respect and affection from the people you work with, reflected in a near-unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate.”

“For me,” Carter said after taking the oath, “this is the highest honor, to be the 25th secretary of defense. I’m grateful to [President Barack Obama] and the vice president for your trust and confidence, and to the U.S. Senate as well for their trust and confidence.”

Attending the ceremony were Carter’s son, Will, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., members of Carter’s transition team, and several men and women in uniform.

A Driving Intellectual Force

In his introduction, Biden called Carter a “physicist and a genuine expert on the acquisition and technical capabilities that are going to help guarantee the U.S. military is second to none in the world.”

Carter has a driving intellectual force behind all he does and all the administration has been doing, the vice president added, including strengthening the nation’s cyber capabilities, improving the way the Pentagon does business, and implementing the Asia-Pacific rebalance, including deepening defense cooperation with India.

“Most important of all, you’ve been a fighter,” Biden told Carter, “like the men and women in uniform here today, for the women and men who serve in uniform.”

The defense secretary, like his predecessor, Biden added, “understands that while this country has many obligations, it only has one truly sacred obligation, and that’s to equip and protect those we send to war, care for their families while they’re there, and care for them and their families when they come home.”

Tough Missions Ahead

Many tough missions lie ahead, the vice president said, from fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, strengthening NATO, and rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region, to maintaining the nation’s technological edge and continuous efforts to make the most out of every dollar invested in defense.

“Dr. Carter,” Biden said, “as you take leadership of the greatest military in the history of mankind, … you do so with the confidence of everyone in your building, confidence of the United States Senate, confidence of President Obama and me, and so many other people who admire your work.”

Carter thanked his wife and children, his transition team and the team he joins at the Pentagon, including Work, Dempsey, Winnefeld and others.

The defense secretary characterized the defense of the nation as “the highest calling,” and he made three commitments to the men and women of the Defense Department, to the president and vice president, and to his fellow citizens.

Three Commitments

“The first is to help our president make the best possible decisions about our security and the [world’s] security, and then to ensure that our department executes those decisions with its long accustomed competence and effectiveness,” he said.

While dealing with challenges to national security, Carter said, he wants to help the nation’s leadership grab hold of opportunities that lie before the country, and to help make the world safer and a better place for the next generation.

“My second commitment is to the men and women of the Department of Defense, whom I will lead, to reflect in everything I do and to honor the commitment and dedication that brought them into service,” Carter said, “and to protect their dignity, their safety, their well-being, [and] to make decisions about sending them into harm’s way with the greatest reflection and care.”

A Force for the Future

Carter’s third commitment was to the future, he said, “to building a force for our future that involves not only securing the resources we need but making … the best use of the taxpayers’ dollar, making sure we embrace change so that years from now, … we continue to be a place where America’s finest want to serve, and a place that is a beacon to the rest of the world.”

As Obama enters the fourth quarter of his presidency, the defense secretary added, “these commitments, … I think, will help me help him and help the vice president to ensure that those years are productive, and that they leave our country’s future in the best possible place — in the best possible hands.” >>READ MORE