Top Pentagon Official: Military ‘Cried Wolf’ Over Sequestration

The Defense Department is planning to change its messaging in the struggle over spending cuts.

SLUG: ph-shooting DATE: March 05, 2010 NEG NUMBER: 212525 LOCATION: Pentagon City Metro Stop PHOTOGRAPHER: GERALD MARTINEAU, for TWP CAPTION: We photograph people who decided to walk to the Pentagon, including many in uniform, rather than take a shuttle bus. Photo shows them crossing Army-Navy Drive.
Washington Post/Getty Images
Jordain Carney
Feb. 25, 2014, 11:54 a.m.

The Pentagon has over­stated the ef­fects of the se­quester’s spend­ing cuts in pre­vi­ous years, a top De­fense of­fi­cial said Tues­day.

“We cried wolf about this a lot in ‘13, as ‘13 was ap­proach­ing,” said Frank Kend­all, the Pentagon’s un­der­sec­ret­ary of De­fense for ac­quis­i­tion, tech­no­logy, and lo­gist­ics, at a de­fense budget con­fer­ence dis­cuss­ing the se­quester cuts.

“What we did in ‘13 was sort of the death of a 1,000 cuts,” Kend­all said, adding that cuts were made across the board, but none were sig­ni­fic­antly neg­at­ive.

Ser­vice chiefs have said that for the 2013 fisc­al year, they largely helped hold off the se­quester by dol­ing out pre­vi­ously un­used funds. And though the mil­it­ary was far from un­scathed, it re­mained glob­ally su­per­i­or to oth­er mil­it­ar­ies.

The Pentagon is ask­ing Con­gress for $496 bil­lion for the up­com­ing fisc­al year, $45 bil­lion less than it ori­gin­ally pro­jec­ted and $9 bil­lion above the budget caps un­der the se­quester.

“I think it’s time go­ing for­ward to have an in­formed de­bate about this,” Kend­all said. He ad­ded: “We’re go­ing to put on the table what it means”¦. If you don’t like all the “¦ things we’re do­ing “¦ look at all the bad things we’ll be do­ing if se­quest­ra­tion stays in place.”

And though the de­part­ment’s fisc­al 2015 budget sticks to the spend­ing lim­its set by last year’s agree­ment, it in­cludes pro­vi­sions — in­clud­ing BRAC, changes to the A-10, and com­pens­a­tion is­sues — that Con­gress is ex­pec­ted to push back on, if not com­pletely re­ject.

After the 2015 fisc­al year, the five-year budget ex­pec­ted to be re­leased by Pres­id­ent Obama on Monday will ask for $115 bil­lion over the se­quester-level caps.

But act­ing Deputy De­fense Sec­ret­ary Christine Fox said Pentagon of­fi­cials be­lieve the “budget is reas­on­able and real­ist­ic and re­spons­ible.”

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