DoD Official: Programs Safe if U.S. Avoids Sequestration

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Defense companies that survived broad cuts in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal are likely to see their programs continue over the next five years, barring additional reductions.

“I think that’s a fair assessment, if there is no sequestration,” U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a March 8 conference sponsored by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse in Arlington, Va.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he does not expect sequestration — which would cut $500 billion from the budget if Congress cannot reach a deficit reduction deal by January 2013 — to happen. The congressman said that expiring tax cuts would cover the sequester expense, meaning no deal is necessary.

“I think that the likely scenario is that the tax cuts expire, sequestration doesn’t happen, and we go into January fighting,” Smith said at the conference.

Smith also said that he expects Congress to pass a budget and avoid a continuing resolution because of pre-established spending caps. Congress has passed continuing resolutions to fund the federal government a number of times in recent years because lawmakers were unable to pass legislation before the beginning of the fiscal year.

While the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to reduce procurement quantities in a number of areas to meet budget targets, it still aims to make investments in other areas, such as cybersecurity and electronic warfare.

“It’s an area we’re not only protecting our investments in, but making bigger investments,” Carter said of cybersecurity.

Carter said he is “still not remotely satisfied with where we are in dealing with cyber.”

As for electronic warfare, it is an area DoD has “undervalued and understressed in the recent past and in some cases fallen a bit behind, lost some of our edge,” Carter said. “We need to catch up.”

Carter said he is “particularly worried about the effect of jammers on our large, installed base radars.”

Last summer, defense officials began looking at DoD’s electronic warfare portfolio for areas “where we have fallen behind in expectation,” Carter said.

“Fortunately, in many cases, with a reasonable investment, we can catch up quickly,” he said. “We still have the expertise in some places and government to do that.”

DoD has made strides in responding to electronic warfare over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, Carter said, but these threats “aren’t as challenging” as ones the military could experience elsewhere.

“For any aircraft, however capable, however stealthy, to have a chance, it needs electronic warfare,” he said. “You can’t do all of that on board.”

 

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