ADMIRAL JAMES WINNEFELD: All right, thank you, General Sullivan. Thank you very much for inviting me here this evening to the Strategic Issues Forum. I’ve heard about this of late, and the people I’ve – I know I talked to Marty Dempsey, who spoke here before, and he very much enjoyed the opportunity to speak with this group. And I really do want to thank you for allowing me to join you, sort of a lonely island of white uniform in a sea of former, current Army green. (Laughter.) Even if you are in a civilian uniform, I know where you’re coming from.
But it’s always been a privilege for me personally to be around the Army, beginning with a great introduction, a guy at airborne school at Fort Benning. And I ask – whenever I go to Afghanistan and shake the hands of a soldier, sometimes I’ll ask them, you know, how much – you know, I’ll give you a coin if you can guess what year I went through airborne school, and it’s like, oh, 1997? (Laughter.) Nah, try 1975. (Laughter.) So it was – and that was obviously long before any of them were born.
But it was a real privilege … 30 years later, in 2005, to support our soldiers on the ground in Iraq, flying an F-14 in close air support missions a couple of times a week as a two-star. That was a big thrill for me to get away from the carrier and get out over Iraq and get outside the wire and help our troopers on the ground.
I’m honored to live on an Army base, in a house once occupied by Colonel George Patton while he commanded the Brave Rifles. We have his picture on the wall to prove it. And I know this crowd knows what he looked like. If you saw the movie and you think of a scowling, you know, Patton and you look at the pictures on our wall, you know that the acting job is pretty good. (Laughter.) He – this was before World War II, and he desperately wanted to get into combat, and so he was pretty unhappy, and you could see it in the pictures.
I can also say that given my last three jobs, I now probably know as many Army generals by their first names as I do Navy admirals. And in this job, sometimes even call me general, which always quickens my step a little bit. (Laughter.) I have an Army guy as an aide, artillery officer, Brandon Anderson, who’s going to go head off to battalion command here shortly down in Texas. Very, very proud to have him on the team. As a Georgia Tech graduate, I can say that I’m somewhat – somewhat neutral regarding Army-Navy football. (Laughter.)
When we’re together this evening at the beginning of what promises to be a fall season full of excitement – and not because of what might happen with the fortunes of your favorite football team – rather, as we prepare to step onto the shaky field of the financial future, we find ourselves with no idea how much money we’re going to have, no idea of when we’re going to find out how much money we’re going to have and no idea of what the rules are going to be when we find out how much money we’re going to have.
Will the government shut down, or will we have a budget, or will we have a continuing resolution, which seems to be the most likely case here in 18 days? We found out today that the House was unable to come together on legislation for a continuing resolution, so we’ll have to see where that goes. Is the sequester mechanism going to kick in again on the 1st of January? Will our nation’s political leaders further harden their positions as the election season comes upon us, or are they going to reach some kind of compromise? Whether they’re going to take the temperature of the American people – what’s going to happen there?
So if any of you are “Men in Black” fans, of the movie, I could use the services of the character Griffin, a multidimensional being who could see many possible futures at the same time. I keep remembering him saying, “Uh-oh, this is the one where …” – you know, and I can’t find a good one out there. The only future that seems clear is that there’s no one from a secret nongovernmental organization riding over the horizon ready to neutralize the giant, ugly bug of this turmoil.
And to put this in the – into business talking head speak, I calculate the odds of the Defense Department enduring considerable financial stress for the foreseeable future as being, well, pretty high. And as tempting as it is, I’m not going to relay to this group, this very well-educated group tonight, in detail the disruption that this has already meant for the department or for the finest army on the planet, other than to mention the challenges associated with the potential steepness of the resource cliff that we face under the current law, the wasteful effects of not being able to plan decisively, the fact that readiness seems to have no constituency in this environment, that elements of our industrial base could be very much at risk, and above all the negative effects of all this on our wonderful men and women in our services while we still have troops in combat.
And we don’t have the luxury of muttering what a shame it is and blaming the other side. We have to defend the nation. So I want to talk a little bit about what we are going to have to do in order to be able to do that. And I would say to succeed, we first have to be armed with two fundamentally important weapons.
The first weapon we have to have is courageous and effective leaders who are able and willing to face the new realities of this evolving security environment and to lead change. Business – and many of you are in business, most of you probably – business and war-fighting in history are rife with leaders who got this kind of thing right and those who got it wrong.
It’s all over the place in the business literature. Max Depree, author of “Leadership Is an Art,” was so right when he said the first job of a leader is to face reality, as was General Electric’s Jack Welch when he said, “You must face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were,” as well as business guru Jim Collins, who said in his book “Good to Great,” “Great companies confront the brutal facts of the current reality,” or in our business, as Clausewitz, Liddell Hart and many others described it, the commander’s coup d’oeil, the ability to discern quickly and completely the advantages and disadvantages of the terrain or the situation.
We have to have leaders who will do this, who have studied and understand the mistakes that have been made in the past by organizations in similar crisis and who will then push forward with a creative answer.
And we also need leaders who have unselfish and unconditional support from their bedrock institutions. In this case, the magnificent active Reserve, Guard, and retired military and civilian men and women who make up the Army community, including the AUSA. Fortunately, the Army’s blessed with such leaders in Secretary John McHugh and Ray Odierno. It’s my very great privilege to work with both of these gentlemen each day. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their work cut out for them.
And that leads to the second weapon that we need to have: a solid intellectual framework to guide us across the line of departure. My sense is that this framework finds its most solid foundation when we strike the proper balance among the three elements of strategy, namely, our national security ends, and the threats thereto, the military ways we go about defending those interests, and the financial means we shape into the military tools of capability, capacity and readiness to defend those interests. We’re going to have to balance all three of those elements. And those who would suggest that we should just articulate our strategic ends and then simply demand the means to make it happen have never seriously done strategy in the real world, and they would risk leaving us with a bankrupt strategy if we do so. The harsh reality is that today we’re in a security environment in which the ends, the ways and the means are all shifting under our feet simultaneously. And if we don’t understand this reality or combination of realities or deny it, hoping it will disappear, or if we allow our ends, ways and means to get out of balance, then our strategy will be bankrupt and we will fail our great nation.
So in the time that I have tonight, I’d like to elaborate a little bit on ends, ways and means, beginning with the importance of ends, that is, the list of interests that we who use the military instrument of national power, in what rough order of priority we would protect those interests. This list has to be by nature somewhat abstract, and usually begins with the survival of our nation and ends with something we call protection of universal values. And there’s plenty in between, depending on who is doing the listing. And you can make your own list, but you might try preventing catastrophic attacks on our country – in other words, no more 9/11s – maintaining secure, confident and reliable allies and partners, and protecting American citizens abroad.
We can argue the details, but I would say that these interests are enduring. What changes is the degree to which we can comfortably cover everything on the list, and if not, making sure that we can and do cover the most important things. I don’t know how we can make decisions, especially in the department’s current financial crisis, without referring to the touchstone of national interest. I turn to them in some way every single day.
For example, the greater the number and importance of our interests that are affected in a given situation – you pick it – the more likely we are to use force, to do so unilaterally, to take great risk in doing so, such as boots on the ground, to expend great resources doing it, to push against international law and to accept opportunity costs elsewhere in the world. And the opposite is also true. I’d also submit that we’re seeing this model play out very well in Syria today. We’ve seen it play out in Libya and elsewhere in the world.
Similarly, knowing how we prioritize, what we intend to protect in this world, can guide our investment decisions. All of the things being equal, the more a way or a means contributes to protecting greater interests, more and higher interests, the more likely we should be to invest in it. And the opposite is true as well.
Chairman Dempsey introduced this concept into the chairman’s risk assessment this year. We changed that document from a tour d’horizon of all of the various regions in the world to a tour of our – what we believe are our national security interests. And it worked pretty well for us, and we introduced this again into the process we used for the strategic choices and management review, which we completed earlier this summer.
That brings me to the steady – actually, I’ll say it’s doubly important that we use these interests now in a tough fiscal environment with the operational investment decisions we’re going to have to make that are going to be so hard in the near future. So that brings me to the steadily evolving threats to those interests, to those prioritized ends, many of which threaten more than one of those ends, beginning with major nation states who’ve watched the U.S. military’s impressive capability, including the Army’s, with some anxiety, and who are working very, very hard to catch up, in some cases using advanced designs exfiltrated from our own industrial networks to help them along. And where they can’t do so symmetrically, they will come after us asymmetrically. This has huge implications for the way we might employ our forces in the future, and thus what kind of forces we might buy.
Then there are the highly insecure authoritarian states, such as Iran, North Korea, and of course, Syria, including those who murder their own people on a large scale and those who have concluded that obtaining deliverable nuclear weapons are the best insurance policy for their regime. This has huge implications as well, ranging from – (inaudible ) – how we handle a dictator who murders his own people with gas, to the importance of limited missile defense, to how we might actually handle a conflict on the Korean peninsula.
Then there’s the threat from violent extremism, which has morphed from a centrally controlled apparatus within a supportive host nation over a decade ago to a group of highly diversified, feisty and independent yet very weakened franchises living mostly in poorly or ungoverned spaces. They’re growing operationally wiser over time, and they still threaten American citizens and interests across the globe, including right here at home.
There are a lot of other evolving threats to our interests, including transnational criminal organizations and hyperpowered individuals. Even the threat of disasters is changing along with U.S. climate. And when I consider the interests that we have to protect and the threats to those interests, I find that there’s plenty in there for the Army. And that’s where we need to get into ways.
Ways are the vital connective tissue between ends and means. The more we refine our ways, the more we can preserve the ends we seek using fewer resources. There are two imperatives, I believe, within this need for constant examination of our ways. First, we owe it to the taxpayers to always search for ways to become more efficient so we can preserve more front-end warfighting capability for our troopers. This is the first place we looked in the secretary’s strategic choices and management review. And ladies and gentlemen, we reinforce the fact again that it’s time for us to lean this business out or we will not have the means to protect the interests that I mentioned above. And we’re going to need a lot of help doing it, and we’re going to need help from Congress in giving us freedom to maneuver within our own budgets and by removing a host of restrictions on our ability to become more efficient, such as limitations on our downsizing glide slopes in all the services and prohibitions on the base closures and a mandated pay and benefits growth glide slope that’s out of touch and simply not sustainable.
So let me elaborate just a little bit on that. Were you aware that Congress prohibited us from decommissioning ships this year, or removing old aircraft from our inventory, or that they placed limits on Ray Odierno’s ability to downside on the profile he wants to downsize? Were you aware that contrary to the popular narrative, the closure part of the 2005 BRAC only cost us $6 billion and is now saving us almost $4 billion per year. And we need new closures desperately because we have around 20 percent excess infrastructure in DOD. Those of you out there in business know that no business can survive carrying 20 percent excess infrastructure.
Finally, if you go to the Army’s own recruiting website – it’s a great website, goarmy.com – you’ll find that an Army [Military Police] officer with four years of experience makes 43 percent more net income, after taxes and health benefits are included, than his civilian counterpart police patrol officer. I’ll be the first to say that our men and women in uniform deserve more than the average bear, and we need to attract the best. But we need help to control our compensation growth, or we’re going to price ourselves right out of the national security business.
We’re also going to need help from you and your fellow institutions. We need you to help Secretary McHugh and Ray Odierno in understanding and supporting their need to find these efficiencies and manage compensation. Many will fight some of these needed changes, but I would implore to this very important group to stand up and understand that the most important benefit that we can provide our troopers is to train and equip them to fight and win and come home safely. And we won’t be able to do that unless we find savings elsewhere.
The second ways imperative is the fact that the world is constantly changing – changes in the ways battles and wars are fought because of new tactics and new technologies, which you’ve known throughout your whole careers. Changes in the types of conflicts most likely to be fought, and even changes in the way societies look at conflict.
One of my favorite thoughts comes from a book called “Surfing the Edge of Chaos,” and it’s very simple. “Equilibrium is the precursor to death.” We have to look ahead and make sure we’re not stuck in the equilibrium of the past and that we’re preparing for the next fight, not the current or the last fight, or we will become irrelevant or worse. This is where I think the Army has to take a hard look at what kind of operations it will most likely conduct in the future.
Our nation will always need the ability to take and hold ground. While others help, only ground forces can do that. But future battlefields and the way we employ our nation’s Army to do that are very likely to change.
I’d submit that we’re more likely to see a Desert Storm type of operation, ejecting a nation that has invaded an ally or a friend of the United States than we are to see another decade-long counterinsurgency campaign. I simply don’t know whether the security interests of our nation are threatened enough to cause us to need a future major extended COIN campaign, though we very well might provide support to a nation fighting its own COIN campaign as we continue to do today in – (inaudible).
The president himself made it clear in our defense strategic guidance that we will retain some capability and – (inaudible) – but only on a limited scale. In any case, we’ve learned all along the way that long wars are taxing. Many of us have forgotten that the Civil War, which preserved our union, and World War II – somebody who fought in World War II tonight – a global conflict that was a defining event for America for so long, each really lasted only four years for this country.
We’ve seen very recently – the American people are very wary of getting into an extended war of any type. We should take to heart three principles that Fox Conner imparted to both Eisenhower and Marshall when they were both young officers: never fight unless you have to; never fight alone; and never fight for long. And none other than Sun Tzu said when the army engages in extended campaigns, the resources of the state will fall short. So we’ve placed a bet on that, even though we’ve hedged the bet, by retaining capability and capacity in the Army for COIN, but it’s not going to be on a scale we’ve seen over the last 10 years.
I will say if we get in another fight – and someday, we will get in another fight on the ground – I think it’ll be a different fight, one that’s short, faster-paced and much harder. The battlefield will be a more hostile environment than it’s ever been. The fog of war, despite all of our technology, will not clear for us, and the adversary will use the tools we’ve employed so successfully recently – such as quality ISR and networks and precision-guided weapons – against us, we will need ground forces that can handle this.
Speed of deployment, whether by being there already or through pre-positioning or through lift, will become more important than it’s ever become. Speed of maneuver and the effectiveness of combined arms are going to be more important than ever. There are a lot of other imperatives and opportunities for the Army as well – and you know them better than I do – but I would say that I’d like to see the Army place more emphasis on the growth industry of the national security interest of protecting American citizens abroad. Don’t yield that entirely to the Marine Corps. It’s taking greater urgency in light of recent events.
The good news is that the Army has a long history of innovators, people like George Patton – in whose house I lived – and Daniel Van Voorhis, who led the creation of the modern armor branch and William DePuy who changed the way the Army trained for combat and in many ways anticipated Desert Storm and OIF in the post-Vietnam period.
The Army’s rapid changes in response to a new kind of battlefield in Iraq and in Afghanistan are now a matter of record, and I will say in today’s environment, we need to empower the “ways” innovators like we never have before, and Ray Odierno has always been a key innovator, including in Iraq. No, he’s thinking big about the Army’s leader development strategy, global responsiveness, regionally aligned and engaged forces, strategic land power and how the Army can contribute to our renewed emphasis on the Pacific.
I believe Ray has the toughest job of any service chief today because the Army is under such pressure, and that brings us to means. Means are ultimately the three tools of capability, capacity and readiness. We use them to breathe life into our ways, and we are all –all the services, including the finest Army on our planet – going to have to do with fewer means, and that means adjusting those three levers I mentioned a moment ago.
Now unfortunately, service chiefs tend to be graded both by their alumni and their members, especially during a downturn, mostly by how much capacity they’re able to retain in their service. How big did Ray Odierno keep the Army? It’s the easiest and most obvious thing to measure, and we know that every service chief kind of looks over his shoulder at these important constituencies. However, I believe all of the services should instead be looking at the optimal mix of capacity along with capability and readiness, which are much harder to quantify or explain, but that are going to be so terribly important in our next fight.
And that’s why I don’t have some magic number in my mind for the size of the Army, because I’m not smart enough to pick that number. My sense, though, is that the kind of future battlefield I described above, where we cannot expect extended campaigns, but the ones we do fight will be very difficult and will have to be executed very quickly, generally argues for capability and readiness over capacity.
In any case, I trust that the Army’s leadership will wisely and courageously find the right combination of those three levers to provide new ways on a new battlefield in support of the realistic ends that we’re all trying to service. And wherever the Army goes, it’s going to need your support, and I know [its soldiers will] have it.
And that takes me back to the very first weapon with which we need to arm ourselves, namely, people who can lead change. Former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano said about companies in crisis “you spend more time arguing amongst yourselves over a shrinking pot and looking to the future, so you miss the big turn.” I’m hopeful and confident at the same time that the Army’s leadership will avoid this trap with the internal budget decisions that they’re going to have to make and that they’ll be submitting in the next couple of weeks.
There are going to be tough choices as our Army makes its next big turn. Mid-grade and senior leaders will have to look beyond the wars in which they grew up and beyond the branches in which they grew up, will have to get the balance right between the active component and the Reserve component. Everything except perhaps cyber will likely get smaller. Sacred cows are going to have to be gored and rice bowls overturned.
The strongest arguments will be tied to the ends of our national security interests, and the ways that are most innovative and best correspond to those ends will be the ones that mostly will be empowered to shape our means. But if we get this right, emerging from the far side of all this complexity will be an Army that’s maybe smaller but it’s going to be newer, faster, more lethal and more capable. It’s a tall order, but as always, our great soldiers, along with the operational, tactical and technical innovations they’ll lead, will remain this nation’s biggest warfighting edge. And I will tell you that if the Army were a stock, I’d be buying it right now.
You here at AUSA can enhance the value of that stock. Give the leaders you have in the United States Army the intellectual space and backing they need to make the tough decisions they have to make. So thank you for allowing this humble naval officer to address you tonight.
God bless the United States Army and the finest soldiers in the world and their families and the wonderful nation we all protect. And after a couple of questions, I’m going to go back and help my son fill out his application for West Point. (Laughter, applause.)
So I can take a couple of questions and then I’m going to leave you guys to your own wisdom here. Let me take one first from a – from a retired ... Anyone – all right, go ahead.
Q: Admiral, Sydney Freedberg from breakingdefense.com. Having covered the Army for about 15 years on and off, a lot of you say about your short, decisive campaigns, rapid deployment, you know, fighting fiercer and faster, this all sounds terribly familiar, and the three letters RMA come to mind.
You did say we’re not going to enter the fog of war, but, you know, the confidence that we were able – that we were looking to, you know, avoid long wars and be able to do things, you know, quickly, virtuously and decisively led us down some dangerous paths and led the – led the Army to, you know, make a major effort on the rapid deployment forces for a lot – leaning on – (inaudible) – is FCS and, you know, things that were ultimately irrelevant in the last decade – like the (inaudible) – strike group.
How do we – A, how do we be confident about not getting stuck in for the long term, and how do we avoid holding the same traps as Shinseki and Rumsfeld held 13 years ago?
ADM. WINNEFELD: Great question. First I’d say that one of the points that we tried to make when we put together the defense strategic guidance, about a year and a half ago when we wrote that out, was that we were going to try to avoid institutional hubris and that we admitted that we could – we could be wrong on some of this. And I think – you know, many of you remember Secretary Gates was fond of saying that, you know, we hardly ever get this right. And that’s why we’re leaving barrier hedges in there.
But I still would make the point that we don’t – we don’t see a situation in a – in the real world where we will have a long counterinsurgency campaign. We believe that the types of conflicts that we will be in would be shorter than 10 or 12 years, but potentially we could experience four years wars in the past. We’ve gotten some pretty clear guidance from the president on that and we also have a very clear sense that the American people are just exhausted by long wars.
And I do believe our political leadership has it in mind that they will do what they can to avoid a long war now. And when circumstances get beyond their control, where it just runs out of control and you find yourself stuck in some kind of a long war, possibly. But we’ve got to make some very difficult decisions in a very tough financial environment. And we are, you know, encouraging ourselves to look soberly at what the shape and size of each service is going to be in terms of capacity, capability and training.
And we’re very worried that we’re going to lose on training piece because it doesn’t have much of a contingent – constituency. If you are a Congressman who has an F-15 squadron in your district, you don’t really care if that squadron is flying or not as long as it’s there, OK? And so that is a powerful compeller of keeping force structure at the expense of readiness. And you have to avoid that.
So we’re trying – Ray is trying to get the balance right. We think that at the end of these two wars there’s a lot of capacity in the Army. And we’re also not going to be able to sustain that capacity with the budget we’re going to have. We got to kind of mold this thing so we are able to keep the capability, keep the readiness and keep the right amount – (inaudible). It’s a tough call.
ADM. WINNEFELD: Questions? All the way in the back.
Q: Sir, Colonel R.J. Lowbridge (sp), Army fellow at Institute for Defense Analysis. Sir, I acknowledge your comment about, you know, both the military and our policymakers, the American public aren’t, you know, probably interested in future extended campaigns. I acknowledge that, sir. But how do we remedy that with the reality that we’re still in Kosovo 14 years after the fact, MFO and other treaties like that, sir the common comment that we’re still in Europe, you know, 67 years after World War II, Korea.
We still have long-standing commitments out there. And you know, we have not drawn those down. There was an Army colonel. His career kind of ended when he went into Bosnia in ’95 and said, you know, we’re going in for five years and we were there 10-plus years after the fact. How do we remedy that, sir, with the policy makers?
ADM. WINNEFELD: It depends on whether you define Kosovo as a campaign right now. It’s – we aren’t in combat. There’s risk – plenty of risk there. You know, we have to be careful, but I’m talking about what we would commonly define as a long war. We do have commitments in Korea. We’ve been there since the ’50s and in Europe since World War II. But there hasn’t been combat in Europe – or there hasn’t – you know, at least – (inaudible) – there hasn’t been combat on the Korean peninsula.
So, yes, there are obligations we have around the world, but I’m talking about a national commitment on a large scale to a long-term combat operation. We just don’t see that happening in the near future. But we do – we hedge that bet by keeping up capacity in case it’s wrong. This is where the defense strategic guidance – we define that we would retain the ability to defeat another nation. You can call that regime change if you want. And we would only have enough capacity to simultaneously do a denial objectives campaign, which might be preventing Iran, closing the Strait of Hormuz, what have you.
If we get into the full sequester environment, we’re going to have to re-evaluate that combination of the two things. And we may find that we would only be able to do defeat and nothing else. Or we may find that we would be able to do two denial objectives campaigns. But I think that Marty and I both would say that the nation needs to keep the capacity to defeat another nation on the ground. That’s something that’s the signature thing that we got to be able to do, if nothing more than as a deterrent. But we don’t see that being a long fight. We can’t afford it.
Q: Sir, I’m – (inaudible). I’m a senior fellow here. Can you just address whatever you’d like to say about the challenges of the current compensation package, your views on telling Congress – whatever way you want to go.
ADM. WINNEFELD: Sure. One thing that we believe is that we have done a wonderful job over the last 10 years increasing the compensation and all manner of benefits for our wonderful soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. They are better compensated now than they ever have been in history. And that’s a great thing. We’re proud of them. They work hard. They deploy. They are exposed to great risks. And they should be compensated, we think, better than the average American that’s out there.
But we’re worried that if we say on the same trajectory we’re on that we will price ourselves out of business, that we will spend such a huge proportion of our budget on compensation and health care and other benefits that we won’t be able to buy stuff. And we won’t be able to keep the stuff that we buy ready. Now, the common rejoinder that we get back is, oh, there’s money in there someplace. You just got to become efficient in other ways. Well, we’re trying as hard as we can.
And if we can get – even if we get BRACs and we get the other types of relief we’d like to get from Congress in becoming more efficient, if you look at the financial outlook for the department in detail, we’re going to have to find some relief on the trajectory of compensation. You know, it’s not a pay cut. It might be a slowdown in the growth of compensation. But we’ve got to address this or we’re going to price ourselves out of the business of keeping our country ready. And you know, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what that might be, but we are looking very carefully at how to shape that so it’s as fair as possible for our people.
Q: Sir – (inaudible) – Army staff. Your vision for the Army was sort of smaller, newer, faster, more capable. Is that the same for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps? Or is there – I mean, where do they fit in this equation?
ADM. WINNEFELD: Yeah. All the services are going to have to come down in size. There’s no question about it. It’s just under the current law – the current law is sequestration, $52 billion next year. And by the way, we sort of experienced that a little bit in FY ’13. But it was – you know, a lot of the expenses that we had to take care of were, you know, taking money out of acquisition programs that, you know, owed money. We sort of survived that. Now comes a gruesome $52 billion in FY ’14 is going to be a big hit in all the services.
So yeah, all the services are going to get smaller. I don’t have the numbers memorized, but the Air Force is coming down considerably by the number of fighter squadrons that they’re going to have. They’re going to have to manage their readiness in that construct. The Navy’s going to be able to build something like 25 fewer aircraft. And I don’t have the number of ships memorized, but as you see the budgets roll out, all the services are going to get smaller. You know, I don’t know if they’re going to be faster or not. They’re already pretty fast. But they’re going to take a hit.
Q: (Inaudible.) Have you and General Dempsey talked and what’s your – (inaudible)? What do you see of sequestration? For a year? For the duration?
ADM. WINNEFELD: I really don’t know. I really don’t – I don’t know. The question was, is sequestration here for the duration? It’s the law of the land. We see no willingness on the part of the political leadership to compromise with one another to make it go away. One thing we do believe is that we’re not going to get the FY ’14 budget as it’s – we’d like to have what we submitted and we fully support the president’s budget.
So the question is, if they do come up with a budget, what’s that number going to look like and what’s the profile over the long term? We believe that any cuts that we take really need to be back looking. And we’re often accused of saying that because, hey, if it’s – (inaudible) – you can wish it away and somebody can fix it in a few years. And that’s not it at all. It’s just many of you who are experienced budgeters know that if you have to take a big cut early, the cliff is steep, that they’re – you have to grab cash wherever you can grab it. And it’s very, very disruptive. It’s about wholesale cancelling programs. It’s about maybe even restricting promotions and accessions. You have to take out – it’s about drastic cuts in readiness accounts. And it’s wholly disruptive to what you’re trying to do as a service if you take that steep cut right away. And this is – what we’re facing under sequester is this – it may not be the biggest cut proportionally, frankly, the department’s ever taken, but it’s the steepest one they’ve ever taken. And it’s very – (inaudible). So whatever happens, we need it to be back looking.
Q: Admiral, you mentioned the Defense Strategic Guidance – (inaudible). Do you think that’s an adequate articulation of national military strategy? And do you want the force sizing that we’re talking about – do we need a clearer national military strategy as we go into our – national defense (panel ?) and all these other things – (inaudible)?
ADM. WINNEFELD: The way we’ve characterized it is that the Defense Strategic Guidance was a starting point for us.
ADM. WINNEFELD: And when you look back at what it was intended to mean and do, it actually a pretty good document. It’s not a perfect document, but it’s a pretty good document. Remember that when you trace the history, that Secretary Gates had challenged us with a $300 million not savings but redistribution inside the department, and then the president challenged us later that spring and summer with a $400 million – he said by August 3rd or 4th, it was 470 – whatever it was – (inaudible) – which happened to be voted on and enacted the same day that I took this job, so I – (laughter) – enjoy being, you know, the guy that – the culmination of this thing.
And so we always had declared that we were going to make strategy-based decisions on that. And I would submit that through the spring and summer of 2011 that we were saying that we were going to be doing it. Well, we didn’t really have a strategy on which to base it. And a few of us pointed out we would really need to put together a document that says – you know, some kind of strategic approach on which people can base decisions. So we did that literally over about a four- or five-week period.
There are advantages to trying to write a strategy over a four- to five-week period. I mean, you can really get it done, but, you know, it isn’t going to be a perfect document. The only flaw I would really point out in that thing is that it didn’t really prioritize a lot of things, because we didn’t need to. We still had a lot of money back then. It really said the things we want to do in the world – balance to the Pacific, still focus on the Middle East and protect the industrial base – and it listed 10 missions, but it didn’t prioritize them. We’re going to have to prioritize them now. And the QDR is going to help us with that, and the SCMR, the Strategic Choices Management Review, helped us with that.
So we’re going to take the DSG as a baseline, use what we learned in the SCMR and what we’re going to learn in the QDR, and that’s going to shape our decision-making for this year, not only this year but in the future. But it is a fast-running train, and the traditional, sort of de rigueur PPBS, you know, very orderly process that many of you grew up with is in shambles right now because of all the changes and all the uncertainty. And we’re doing the best we can.
Q: (Inaudible) – was moving so fast that I don’t know – (inaudible) – survive.
ADM. WINNEFELD: Yeah, I agree with you as to there may be some goodness in here that we’ve learned, that we’re more agile than we ever thought we were. It’s driving programmers crazy. I mean, they’re having to come up with three different budgets instead of one, and that’s going to be very, very hard for them.
The one thing we need, the thing I wish I had for Christmas last year, was predictability, or some kind of stability in our financial outlook. That’s the hardest thing for us. We are looking through a glass darkly, and it’s really a challenge.