Secretary of Defense says House Defense Bill is ‘gambling with warfighting money’

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter provides remarks during the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Change of Command ceremony, May 13, 2016 on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. U.S. Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson was appointed by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to assume command from U.S. Navy Adm. Bill Gortney. (DoD Photo by N-NC Public Affairs/Released)

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter says the House of Representatives’ variant of the Defense Authorization bill -demanding a money shift from emergency war spending to the baseline budget- is a reckless tactic that is “gambling with warfighter money at a time of war.”

According to USNI, the SecDef criticized the move during a speaking event Tuesday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2016 Exposition, saying that the plan “would spend money taken from the war account on things that are not DOD’s highest priorities across the joint force.”

The move is allegedly a threat to former budget agreements, with Carter claiming that the bill “leaves us facing the Department’s greatest strategic threat- a return to sequestration and $100 billion dollars in looming automatic cuts beginning next year.”

“Buying force structure in this fiscal year without the resources to sustain it in future years is not a path to increased readiness, it’s a path to a hollow force,” Carter said. “It exacerbates the readiness challenges we currently have. Our readiness recovery plans are centered on synchronized and sustainable manning, training and equipping pipelines that are rigorously shaped based on the size of the force.”

Carter feels that the bill’s notion of separating research and development from the manufacturing process could create issues between the two stages, creating unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. In Carter’s opinion, the the Senate Armed Services Committee entire proposal could prove disastrous to the development and manufacturing process.

“I share the view of SASC that over time,’ Carter added, ‘the acquisition executive’s position has become so preoccupied with program management, including a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy associated with it, that it perhaps takes some management attention from the research and engineering function.”

Carter drew parallels to several aspects of the bill in relation to the F-35 programme, which he said has suffered “growing pains in moving from engineering and manufacturing design to low-rate initial production.”

Several members of the SASC disputed statement, releasing the following statement to USNI on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, Secretary Carter’s statement was wrong,” the SASC wrote. “In reforming (Acquisitions, Technologies and Logistics), the SASC does not split oversight of development and manufacturing. The new undersecretary for research and engineering would set defense-wide acquisition and industrial base policy and oversee the development and production of weapons and national security systems,” read the statement. “Much of this work would be done by a new assistant secretary for acquisition policy and oversight, which would report to the undersecretary and enable that leader to prioritize technological innovation. What would shift to the new undersecretary for management and support is oversight of purchases of goods and services that are not national security systems and line management of defense agencies that perform these and other core business functions.”

Carter has dismissed both bills as excessive and lengthy.

During his address, Carter said that “security is like oxygen. When you have enough of it, you tend to pay no attention to it, but when you don’t have enough, you can think of nothing else.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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