The Intersect
Feb. 15, 2011

Obama's Pentagon budget hits divided Congress
Reuters
The 2012 spending plan calls for $113 billion to buy weapons and services, down from $120 billion projected a year ago, but still at a record level. Weapons research would get nearly $77 billion, roughly on par with last year's projection. U.S. defense contractors including Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp have been bracing for slower growth in defense spending after a decade of double-digit increases that have nearly doubled the Pentagon's core budget since Sept. 11, 2001.More

Cutting the uncuttable: Congress eyes the VA
Congressional Quarterly
For years, when lawmakers spoke about the need to cut government spending, they always hastened to add that they weren't targeting funding for the nation's veterans. Indeed, it's been a banner decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has seen its budget jump from $61.8 billion in fiscal 2004 to $109.6 billion in fiscal 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service. But those days appear to be over.More

Mullen: 'Hard' budget times ahead for military
The Hill
All parts of the U.S. military will face budget cuts as Washington shaves the federal deficit — even special-operations troops, says Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. Special-operations forces take on the toughest missions under the most dangerous conditions, but they will not be "immune" from declining defense budgets, Mullen told a dinner audience during an industry conference in Washington.More

Carter sees defense company mergers, spinoffs within limits
Bloomberg Businessweek
The Pentagon expects U.S. defense contractors to acquire others or divest units and will welcome such moves provided the top five or six suppliers don't consolidate, the Defense Department's top weapons buyer said. "Far from being discouraging" to mergers and acquisitions, "we are actually quite welcome to that because we expect industry to make adjustments," in response to a slowdown in U.S. defense spending, Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told Bloomberg Television.More

Pentagon looks to raise fees, push working-age retirees away and alter the pharmacy program
Army Times
The Pentagon is pushing hard to raise out-of-pocket fees to help cut its health care costs, which have soared 163 percent over the past decade. And that call is getting a warmer reception on Capitol Hill, where many new lawmakers are eager to slash federal spending. For years, benefits for troops and retirees were politically off-limits as defense budgets grew; lawmakers dreaded the prospect of cutting benefits while troops were fighting two wars. But with the nation deep in debt and taxpayers demanding spending cuts, many lawmakers are openly talking of tightening the defense budget.More

Mullen talks changing world, challenges ahead to Army War College audience
United States Army
Adm. Mike Mullen said that current relationships by members of the Guard and Reserve may show a path to success. "We have to leverage our great Guard and Reserve forces who know how to make these connections," he said. "They know how to connect with our communities and their leaders. We wouldn't be where we are today without them."More

New military plan looks beyond wars
Politico
A new U.S. strategic defense plan aims to shift the military's focus beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Military Strategy, released for the first time since 2004 by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, refers to a "strategic inflection point."More

Citizen soldiers are key to Pentagon's future
The Washington Examiner
They didn't call him "Tricky Dick" for nothing — and Melvin Laird knew it. The Wisconsin congressman knew what he was getting into when President Nixon tabbed him as secretary of defense. Laird would have to wind down an unpopular war and thread the needle among a paranoid White House, a restive Congress and a powerhouse personality known as Henry Kissinger. It was Laird who introduced the idea of the "total force." Previously, the National Guard and the reserves had been mere afterthoughts in the Pentagon — underfunded, underequipped, and ill-prepared to do much more than gather on weekends for parades and barbecues.More

Iraq war vet says he has a right to job with his previous employer
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Sometimes Bruce Grove says he wishes he were back fighting for the Texas Army National Guard in Iraq rather than dealing with his problem at home in Lewisville, Texas. After three tours of duty during two wars in Iraq, Grove, 46, wanted to return to his life as on-site property manager for a self-storage facility. His wife ran the operation while he was away. But on Sept. 11, 2008 — Grove says — his wife received a letter that he had been terminated. The facility's owner, The Assured Group, had sold the Lewisville property to another company.More

Carol Yeager named Chaplain of the Year
Salisbury Post
Chaplain Major Carol Yeager was named the Reserve Officers Association Chaplain of the Year for 2010 during the organization's National Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 31. The annual award is given to a chaplain who has made a significant impact in the military and the local community, Yeager says. Yeager was informed in October that she was a contender for the award and was requested to submit additional information.More

National Guard (in federal status) and Reserve activated as of Feb. 8
U.S. Department of Defense
This week the Army, Navy, and Air Force announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Marine Corps and Coast Guard announced an increase. The net collective result is 407 fewer reservists activated than last week. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease.More