U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has laid out marching orders for his newly installed deputy, instructing him to find new efficiencies as the Pentagon looks to cut $450 billion in planned spending over the next decade.
In an Oct. 17 memo to Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Panetta directed his new No. 2 to "take the lead for eliminating wasteful spending, consolidating duplicative functions and driving ongoing and new efficiency initiatives that can help us achieve the aggressive budgetary goals we have set."
Last week in a speech billed as his first major policy address, Panetta said DoD would target $60 billion in efficiencies over the next five years. These savings would come in addition to the $150 billion in efficiencies identified by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Panetta's predecessor.
This week, Panetta directed Carter to work with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to "set in place am architecture to govern decision-making on defense strategy and budget options," the memo states.
"This should incorporate the analyses of the comprehensive strategic review, military compensation reform discussions and the ongoing strategic discussions with the president," the memo states.
Panetta endorsed the creation of the Strategic Choices Group and the "restructuring" of the Deputy's Working Advisory Group (DAWG) into the Deputy's Management Action Group, which will help accomplish these objectives."
Dempsey has tapped Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, the deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command, to lead the Strategic Choices Group, which is conducting a rapid upgrade of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the bedrock of U.S. military strategy and priorities.
The reviews are expected to inform the reductions in planned spending.