DoD Looking At ‘Broad’ Industry Strategy

  DoD Looking At ‘Broad’ Industry Strategy

The Pentagon’s plan to spend money to support defense firms as weapons buying shrinks will be wide-reaching, the defense secretary said yesterday about the still-nebulous industrial effort.

Secretary Leon Panetta fielded questioning from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) yesterday about how he plans to bolster the industrial base as part of the Pentagon’s so-called reversibility concept, to budget and plan in a manner so that the military can quickly respond to unforeseen future threats.

The new defense strategy President Barack Obama unveiled Jan. 6 says the Pentagon is seeking to account for its ability “to make a course change that could be driven by many factors, including shocks or evolutions in the strategic, operational, economic, and technological spheres.” It says the “concept of ‘reversibility’–including the vectors on which we place our industrial base, our people, our active-reserve component balance, our posture, and our partnership emphasis–is a key part of our decision calculus.”

Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa) quizzed Panetta yesterday about that new strategic guidance, which further says the Pentagon will make every effort to maintain an adequate industrial base.

The defense secretary said the Pentagon wants to “be able to reverse any steps we’ve taken in order to be prepared for the future.”

“We are looking at a broad strategy here as to how best do we do this to make sure that as we fund the industrial base we do it in ways that obviously (yield) cost savings, but at the same time maintain those areas in place,” Panetta said. “That’s sometimes not an easy challenge.”

Loebsack called for supporting the organic base of arsenals, saying they provide “a critical function of our readiness and our ability to supply our troops in the event that we have another conflict.”

Panetta said those facilities will be protected as part of the industrial-base shielding effort.

“My goal is I do not want to put anybody out of business in that area,” he said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that they’re around.”

The congressman questioned if Pentagon officials have actively engaged the military services to develop an actual plan to sustain the U.S. organic industrial base.

Panetta said such planning is “part and parcel of the whole strategy here…to maintain that industrial base.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who also testified before the HASC, said the military service chiefs have briefed him and Panetta on their plans regarding the industrial base.

The Pentagon sent Congress a $525.4 billion defense budget request for fiscal year 2013 on Monday. The spending proposal is $45 billion less than previously projected, because of spending caps in the deficit-reduction law passed last year. Much of that reduction–$18 billion–comes from procurement accounts and a $6 billion drop comes from research and development spending. The budget proposal also lays out $259 billion in cuts to previous plans for spending across the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP), which runs from FY ’13 to FY ’17. That five-year cut includes $94 billion to weapons purchases and $17 billion to research funding.

The Pentagon’s FY ’13 budget overview book says the Defense Department “will make every effort to maintain an adequate industrial base and our investment in science and technology.” It says this effort relates to “Strategic Objective 3.5-2D.”