An expected reduction in U.S. Defense Department modernization spending is manageable if it is spread out over a number of years, according to the Pentagon's top military officer.
The Pentagon is gearing up for $260 billion in cuts to planned spending over the next five years as part of a $450 billion reduction over the next decade.
Modernization accounts, which include procurement and research and development, are expected to bear about half of the $260 billion, according to defense analysts.
"If we're able to do it over 10 years, it'll be affected in a manageable way," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the modernization cuts at a Nov. 18 military reporters and editors conference in Arlington, Va. "If we do it in five [years], it'll be much, much more difficult."
Dempsey did not provide a breakdown of how the Pentagon would cut $450 billion in planned defense spending over the next 10 years. The cuts were mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was passed in August.
Roughly $60 billion - about 25 percent - of the cuts will come from efficiencies, while another $60 billion or so will come from reductions in force structure, Emerson Gardner, a retired lieutenant general who served as the principal deputy director of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office until last year, said during a speech at a conference in New York last week.
Mike McCord, the Pentagon's deputy comptroller, said on Nov. 17 that the magnitude of the already mandated cuts has forced the Pentagon to look at all areas of its budget, including compensation.
"We felt that it was not possible … to make all the savings we need to make by going after investing in the future," he said. "It's not comfortable to look at compensation, but we're doing it partly because we feel like we have to, that we cannot, cannot just do a cycle where we disinvest in the future."