Military Readiness Hampered by Excess Infrastructure, Defense Chief Says
The Pentagon’s year-old defense strategy is threatened by two principal dangers, stress on the force and a political system that forces the military to operate with little certainty about available resources, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this week at a National Press Club luncheon.
The department’s effort to ensure the health of the force by investing in its readiness, though, is hamstrung by political considerations that prevent officials from directing funding to the military’s highest priorities.
“There is pressure on the department to retain excess force structure and infrastructure instead of investing in the training and equipment that makes our force agile and flexible and ready,” Panetta said.
“Aircraft, ships, tanks, bases, even those that have outlived their usefulness have a natural political constituency. Readiness does not,” he stated.
Panetta cited decisions by lawmakers to redirect funding in the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill.
“What they did was, in their markups and in the bills that passed each of the houses, diverted about $74 billion of what we asked for in savings in our proposed budget to the Congress, and they diverted them to other areas that, frankly, we don’t need,” he said.