The Defense Department's chief management officer is leading each of the military, departmentwide reviews with the aim of ranking programs needed for the fight against near-peer competitors, said a DOD official.
This effort will be reflected in the fiscal year 2022 through 2026 defense budget cycles, he said.
In the past, this process took place within each of the services, he noted. Now, the chief management office will examine each of their budgets to better align all of them with the National Defense Strategy.
John E. Whitley, who is performing the duties of director of the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, said the National Defense Strategy — DoD's playbook — is focused on possible future threats from China and Russia. He spoke March 4, at the McAleese Defense Programs Conference, in Washington, D.C.
As such, there are programs that are important in answering those threats, he said. The programs include hypersonics, missile defense, artificial intelligence, 5G, modernizing the nuclear triad and readiness.
In the aggregate, that's a big expense, he said, and the department doesn't anticipate increases in future budgets to cover them, so DoD had to look within to find savings.
The department already completed its Defense-Wide Review, which looked at all organizations not owned by the military services — such as the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the Special Operations Command.
That review, which lasted from August through November, freed up about $6 billion for high-priority items that were reflected in the fiscal year 2021 budget, he said.
For instance, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency had gradually expanded its Cold War mission when it focused on nuclear materials. It had expanded, he said, into biological and chemical programs in non-threat areas, so sizeable reductions were made.
Likewise, 50 military treatment facilities were right-sized to better serve members and cut operating costs, he said.
That doesn't mean programs that were cut, delayed or reduced were not important, Whitley added. Tough choices had to be made to free the needed funding for the most important programs.
Besides freeing up money, that review identified another $2 billion in programs that made more sense to turn over to the military services, and that was done, he said.
"We anticipate additional savings from the defense wide accounts," Whitley said.
A third review is now examining each of the combatant commands with an eye for rebalancing manpower and material for the high-end fight, he said.
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