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Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 14, 2010 – Military space operators and their private-sector partners are going to have to find ways to grow capabilities while operating in a fiscally-constrained environment, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today.
Speaking at the National Space Symposium, Lynn said President Barack Obama’s decision to allow some growth in national security agencies was the right move. The president froze spending for domestic agencies.
National security agencies – including the Defense Department – are fighting two wars and working to ensure defense of the homeland. “Even with the increases, some of the costs embedded in our budget are growing faster than the budget as a whole,” Lynn said. Programs such as military health care, wages and benefits, and some of the most advanced weapon systems are likely to continue growing faster than the overall budget, he added.
“This presents a dilemma,” he told the audience. “Either the department, and the industrial base that supports us, can become more efficient, or else we will eventually be forced to reduce programs and ultimately to diminish capabilities.”
The changing fiscal environment also means large amounts of money will not materialize to solve problems magically, the deputy secretary said. “Our space industry will have to overcome the operational challenges,” he added, “while operating in a cost-constrained environment.”
Even with a constrained environment, next year looks to be a remarkable one for military space, Lynn said. “We plan to launch the next block of GPS satellites, the first new protected [satellite communications] satellite, and the first space-based surveillance satellite,” he said.
Acquisition reform plays a part. To ensure acquisition outcomes continue to be successful and continue to improve across the department, Lynn said, the Defense Department is taking several steps. “In many cases, we found the department wasn’t a smart buyer,” he acknowledged.
Over the next five years, the department is increasing the acquisition work force by 20,000. This, Lynn said, will help the department nail down cost estimates in systems engineering and in program management. “We’re making sure we get the right people, not just the right number of them,” he said.
Also, the department needs to exercise more discipline in setting requirements, the first part of the acquisition process, Lynn said, noting that acquisition reform requires the discipline to cancel programs that either are not working or aren’t needed.
“In 2010 and 2011 budgets, [Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates] has cancelled programs that were performing poorly, providing redundant capabilities or simply funding capabilities that were not central to meet our security challenges,” Lynn said. The cancellations saved taxpayers more than $330 billion.
“By exercising program discipline,” Lynn said, “we are able to direct resources to the highest-priority needs.”
Industry, the deputy secretary told the group, obviously is critical to military space progress. The space industrial base must be robust enough to accomplish the national space strategy, he said.
The economy has caused problems for suppliers, and some may go under, Lynn said. In past economic downturns, he added, the Defense Department and the government essentially invested more money to stabilize the nation’s defense industrial base.
“But it would be irresponsible to pursue that approach across the board,” Lynn said. “So we have to find new ways to achieve stability in the industrial base, while at the same time meeting the needs of our warfighters and taxpayers.”