The Future of Defense Budgets

What is the likely outcome of the upcoming historic battles over funding for FY 2013 thru FY 2023 Budgets for the Department of Defense?  How will the heated debates affect critical Weapons Systems, Mission Areas, O&M Programs and the Defense Industrial base?  How will the Politicians shape and pursue the discussions impacting Acquisition Reform, Procurement Budgets, and Technology Investments critical for our competitive advantage on the Battlefields of tomorrow?   How will military end strength suffer as reduced troop levels may be the easiest way to cut spending?  Will cooler heads prevail in this legislative conflict or will partisan bickering be the order of the day?  Finally how will the Men and Women in Uniform be affected as they are called to serve and protect our Country in a time of diminished resources and growing global responsibilities? Are we, as a Nation, ready to face the significant challenge this fiscal dilemma represents to our economy and our position as a Global Superpower? Let's explore the fundamental issues underlying our future Defense Budget Debate and the plans the DOD has to address our National Security.

The “New Defense Budget Reality”

In a Post-Election period of heightened Partisan Politics, the DOD Budget Debates on future spending cuts over the next ten years will continue to be just as heated, tumultuous and more raucous as we approach the so called “Fiscal Cliff” within the next 60 days. Our National Security Policies, Global Strategic Interests, and Our Defense Program Priorities, are now all viewed through the prism of Sequestration.  And it's anticipated dire consequences on Defense spending over the next ten years have been described by DOD leadership as draconian.  There are also many other issues that surround this critical national debate, that are just under the radar screen that don't necessarily make the headlines every day, but  are the critical decision that will underpin a comprehensive framework for the dialogue on future Defense Budgets. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details” and yes we need to keep a sharp eye on what these details represent.

Changing Focus -There are some fundamental shifts we should all be aware of that impact Military thinking, including what the Administration has declared in the new revised “Military Strategy,” with what has been called a “pivot” towards the Pacific.  Indeed, what does that mean for the future of all the US Military Forces?  And there is the large Acquisition Reform and Procurement initiative started by Dr Aston Carter, DEPSECDEF and now headed up by Frank Kendall USD (ATL) that is starting to gain traction and becoming a major effort within the Department of Defense.    And other issues, such as how the Pentagon's Multi-Year Efficiency and Savings Initiative that is slowly and steadily moving forward, totaling over $60 Billion in defense savings over 10 years.  All of these items are part and parcel of the new framework for the upcoming debates on how much and what kind of Defense Budget do we really need.

Key Points – Let’s take a look at a few of the things we need to know about mission areas, our global commitments, and national strategic interests—and what all those “Billion Dollar Numbers” being tossed about really mean to the real programs, technology and combat capability required  to fulfill those obligations.  This is going to be a difficult debate as Congressional Committees go into great detail and since all politics are local; some Congressional Defense Budget Hawks will now likely transform themselves and become partisan defenders of hometown defense projects for jobs and local employment reasons.   And hopefully, after going through some of this, we will provide some better understanding on a few of these important issues and their impact to the Defense Industrial Base.  Clearly, solid cost-benefit tradeoffs between DOD programs and real dollar savings are critical data points for all of us to understand what programs are required to address our National Security interests.  But this is as much a political policy debate as it is a consideration of facts and figures, numbers and dollars.  Funds for Defense will be greatly limited going forward and tough choices will have to be made.  This is not a period of asking for all the funds you need and getting everything you asked for and more, but rather is an austere budgetary period of “making do with what you have” for the foreseeable future.  It is indeed a far different mindset that we haven’t seen in many years. Finally, let’s try to step back from the rhetoric of the debates and highlight some key take a ways—the ones that represent “the necessary navigation vectors”, the street sense that will help guide Microwave companies.  This is important as each organization assesses their strategic plans, investments and directions. And hopefully make their business choices easier to defend on how they will position their companies to participate in the future Defense marketplace.

Living in a Complex World-A Pivot to the Pacific

The world we live in today represents an increasingly larger set of challenges to our national security than we have faced in the past. The demise of Osama bin Laden at the hands of Seal Team Six, and the capturing or killing of many other senior al Qaida leaders have made that terrorist group far less capable today than it was on 9/11.  However violent people dedicated to harming US interests continue to emerge and threaten our citizens, our allies, partners, and the US homeland.  The primary source of these threats comes from South Asia and the Middle East. With the spread of military technology, advanced commercial technology and viable means of global communication like the Internet that are readily available,  potential extremists now have the capability to pose a serious threats to our security both home and abroad.  The US has undertaken an aggressive approach to identifying and countering these terrorist threats through monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners, and directly attacking the most dangerous groups and individuals.  The Obama Administration has pursued a vigorous attack strategy on suspected terrorists, usually via unmanned drones utilizing precision strike weapons.  U.S. economic and security interests are tightly linked to developments in the region from the Western Pacific and East Asia and into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia.

Asia Pacific -The U.S. Military believes that viable future terrorist threats will likely continue to contribute to security issues globally, and they have decided to refocus their resources toward the Asia-Pacific region, the so called “pivot to the Pacific”.Our military leaders believe this region is the most dangerous future area and we need to refocus there today and tomorrow.  Our relationships with Asian allies and key partners are critical to the future stability and growth of the region. The US Military plans to expand their networks of cooperation with emerging partners throughout the Asia-Pacific to ensure collective capability and capacity for securing common interests. The United States is also investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region.  Furthermore, The US has stated it will maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula by effectively working with allies and other regional states to deter and defend against provocation from North Korea, which is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program.  Over the long term, China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the US economy and possibly impact our security in a variety of ways.  However, the growth of China’s military power is an unknown that needs to be addressed by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region. The United States Military will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure that the US will maintain regional access and the ability to operate freely in keeping with our treaty obligations and with international law.

Middle East - In the Middle East, our defense efforts will be aimed at countering violent extremists and destabilizing threats, as well as upholding our commitment to allies and partner states. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). US policy will emphasize Gulf security, in collaboration with Gulf Cooperation Council countries when appropriate, to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon capability and counter its destabilizing policies. The United States will do this while standing up for Israel’s security and a comprehensive Middle East peace.  Europe is our principal partner in seeking global and economic security, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. At the same time, security challenges and unresolved conflicts persist in parts of Europe and Eurasia, where the United States must continue to promote regional security and Euro-Atlantic integration. The United States has enduring interests in supporting peace and prosperity in Europe as well as bolstering the strength and vitality of NATO, which is critical to the security of Europe and beyond.

Global Trade Issues - Global security and prosperity are increasingly dependent on the free flow of goods shipped by air or sea. State and non-state actors pose potential threats to access in the global markets. Both state and non-state actors possess the capability and intent to conduct cyber espionage and, potentially, cyber attacks on the United States, with possible severe effects on both our military operations and our homeland. Growth in the number of space-capable nations is also leading to an increasingly congested and contested space environment, threatening the safety and security of other nations.

Primary Missions of the U.S. Armed Forces

The Primary Goal of our Military Strategy is to protect our National Security Interests across the Globe, to project our Military power as an element of our Foreign Policy and to protect the US Homeland.  Our newly revised National Military Strategy outlines and defines the Military’s missions, how they will act to protect US national interests and will achieve the objectives of the National Security Strategy in this global environment. According to this document, the US Military Forces will need to recalibrate its capabilities and make selective additional investments to succeed in the   following ten mission areas outlined here:

Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare- US military forces must continue to hold al Qaida and its affiliates under constant pressure, wherever they may be. As US Military forces draw down in Afghanistan, our global counter terrorism efforts will become more widely distributed and will be characterized by a mix of direct action and security force assistance.  We will continue to build and sustain tailored capabilities appropriate for counter terrorism and irregular warfare.

Deter and Defeat Aggression- US Military forces will be capable of deterring and defeating aggression by any potential adversary. Credible deterrence results from both the capabilities to deny an aggressor the prospect of achieving his objectives and from the complementary capability to impose unacceptable costs on the aggressor. Our planning envisages forces that are able to fully deny a capable state’s aggressive objectives in one region by conducting a combined arms campaign across all domains – land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace. Even when US forces are committed to a large-scale operation in one region, they will be capable of denying the objectives of either imposing unacceptable costs on an opportunistic aggressor in a second region. US forces will plan to operate whenever possible with allied and coalition forces.

Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges- The US Military forces will maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our military's access and freedom to operate are challenged. In these areas, sophisticated adversaries will use asymmetric capabilities, to include electronic and cyber warfare, ballistic and cruise missiles, advanced air defenses, mining, and other methods, to complicate our operational calculus. States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities, while the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and technology will extend to non-state actors as well. Accordingly, the U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments. This will include implementing the Joint Operational Access Concept, sustaining our undersea capabilities, developing a new stealth bomber, improving missile defenses, and continuing efforts to enhance the resiliency and effectiveness of critical space-based capabilities. 

Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction- US Military forces conduct a range of activities aimed at preventing the proliferation and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. These activities include implementing the Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) Program, and planning and operations to locate, monitor, track, interdict and secure WMD and WMD-related components and the means and facilities to make them. They also include an active whole-of-government effort to frustrate the ambitions of nations bent on developing WMD, to include preventing Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. In partnership with other elements of the U.S. Government, DOD will continue to invest in capabilities to detect, protect against, and respond to WMD use, should preventive measures fail.

Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space - Modern armed forces cannot conduct high-tempo, effective operations without reliable information and communication networks and assured access to cyberspace and space. Today space systems and their supporting infrastructure face a range of threats that may degrade, disrupt, or destroy assets. Accordingly, DOD will continue to work with domestic and international allies and partners and invest in advanced capabilities to defend its networks, operational capability, and resiliency in cyberspace and space.

Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent- As long as nuclear weapons remain in existence, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. We will field nuclear forces that can under any circumstances confront an adversary with the prospect of unacceptable damage, both to deter potential adversaries and to assure US allies and other security partners that they can count on America’s security commitments. It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy.

Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities- US forces will continue to defend US territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors. The DOD will also come to the assistance of domestic civil authorities in the event such defense fails or in case of natural disasters, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event. Homeland defense and support to civil authorities require strong, steady state force readiness, to include a robust missile defense capability. Threats to the homeland may be highest when US forces are engaged in conflict with an adversary abroad.

Provide a Stabilizing Presence - US Military forces will conduct a sustainable pace of presence operations abroad, including rotational deployments and bilateral and multilateral training exercises. These activities reinforce deterrence, help to build the capacity and competence of US, allied, and partner forces for internal and external defense, strengthen alliance cohesion, and increase US influence. A reduction in resources will require innovative and creative solutions to maintain our support for allied and partner interoperability and building partner capacity. However, with reduced resources, thoughtful choices will need to be made regarding the location and frequency of these operations.

Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations - In the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will emphasize non-military means and military-to-military cooperation to address instability and reduce the demand for significant US force commitments to stability operations. US Military forces will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required, operating alongside coalition forces wherever possible. Accordingly, US Military forces will retain and continue to refine the lessons learned expertise, and specialized capabilities that have been developed over the past ten years of counterinsurgency and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, US Military forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.

Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations- US Military forces possess  rapidly deployable capabilities, including airlift and sea lift, surveillance, medical evacuation and care, and communications that can be invaluable in supplementing lead relief agencies, by  extending aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters, both at home and abroad.  DOD will continue to develop joint doctrine and military response options to prevent and, if necessary, respond to mass atrocities. US forces will also remain capable of conducting non-combatant evacuation operations for American citizens overseas on an emergency basis. Missions will largely determine the shape of the future Joint Force. The overall capacity of US military forces, however, will be based on requirements that the following subset of missions demand: counter terrorism and irregular warfare; deter and defeat aggression; maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent; and defend the homeland and support civil authorities.

The Defense Department Vision: Joint Force 2020   

Given the US military cannot predict how the Strategic environment will evolve with absolute certainty over the next ten years, they are planning to maintain a broad portfolio of military capabilities that, in the aggregate, offer versatility across the range of missions.  The DOD will make clear distinctions both among the key sizing and shaping missions and between these mission areas and all other areas of the defense program. Wholesale divestment of the capability to conduct any mission would be unwise, based on historical and projected uses of US military forces and our inability to predict the future. Likewise, DOD will manage the force in ways that protect its ability to regenerate capabilities that might be needed to meet future, unforeseen demands, maintaining intellectual capital and rank structure that could be called upon to expand key elements of the force.   

First, the DOD has soughtto differentiate between those investments that should be made today and those that can be deferred. This includes an accounting of our ability to make a course change that could be driven by many factors, including shocks or evolutions in the strategic, operational, economic, and technological spheres. Accordingly, the concept of “reversibility” including the vectors on which we place our industrial base, our people, our active-reserve component balance, our posture, and our partnership emphasis is a key part of our decision calculus.  

Second, the DOD leadership is determined to maintain a ready and capable force, even as we reduce our overall capacity. DODwill resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure, and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were de-emphasized over the past decade. An ill-prepared force will be vulnerable to corrosion in its morale, recruitment, and retention. Unless we are prepared to send confident, well-trained, and properly equipped men and women into battle, the nation will risk its most important military advantage, the health and quality of the All-Volunteer Force.          

Third, the DOD must continue to reduce the “cost of doing business”. This entails reducing the rate of growth of manpower costs, finding further efficiencies in overhead and   headquarters, business practices, and other support activities before taking further risk in meeting the demands of the strategy. As DOD takes steps to reduce its manpower costs, to include reductions in the growth of compensation and health care costs, we will keep faith with those who serve. During the past decade, the men and women who comprise the All-Volunteer Force have shown versatility, adaptability, and commitment, enduring the constant stress and strain of fighting two overlapping conflicts. They have also endured prolonged and repeated deployments. Some more than 46,000 men and women have been wounded, and still others, more than 6,200 members of the Armed Forces, have lost their lives. As the DOD reduces the size of the force, they will do so in a way that respects these sacrifices. This means, among other things, taking concrete steps to facilitate the transition of those who will leave the service. These include supporting programs to help veterans translate their military skills for the civilian workforce and aid their search for jobs.

Fourth, it will be necessary to examine how this strategy will influence existing campaign and contingency plans so that more limited resources may be better tuned to their requirements. This will include a renewed emphasis on the need for a globally networked approach to deterrence and warfare.

Fifth, the DOD will need to examine the mix of Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC) elements best suited to the strategy. Over the past decade, the National Guard and Reserves have consistently demonstrated their readiness and ability to make sustained contributions to national security. The challenges facing the United States today and in the future will require that as a country we will continue to employ National Guard and Reserve forces. The expected pace of operations over the next decade will be a significant driver in determining an appropriate AC/RC mix and level of RC readiness.

Sixthas we transition out of Iraq and draw down in Afghanistan, the DOD will take extra measures to retain and build on key advancements in networked warfare in which joint forces have finally become truly interdependent. This imperative will shape a number of Departmental disciplines, ranging from establishing war fighting requirements to the way our forces train together.

Seventh, in adjusting our US military strategy and attendant force size, the DOD will make every effort to maintain an adequate industrial base and our investment in science and technology. We will also encourage innovation in concepts of operation. Over the past ten years, the United States and its coalition allies and partners have learned hard lessons and applied new operational approaches in the counter terrorism, counterinsurgency, and security force assistance arenas, most often operating in uncontested sea and air environments. Accordingly, similar work needs to be done to ensure the United States, its allies, and partners are capable of operating in A2/AD, cyber, and other contested operating environments. To that end, the DOD will both encourage a culture of change and be prudent with It’s “seed corn,” balancing reductions necessitated by resource pressures with the imperative to sustain key streams of innovation that may provide significant long-term payoffs.

Improving the Acquisition Process

The DOD continues to do all it can to enhance the defense acquisition process, improving the Pentagon’s buying power and maximizing value for taxpayers’ money.  Recently a senior Pentagon official, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, described in detail in a speech to an industry group and shared his latest efforts to improve the Acquisition process.  “The essence of [my] job has always been about getting as much value as possible for the taxpayers,” he said, “[Former Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates saw the kind of coming storm with the deficit problem that we have and realized early on that defense was going to have to do its share.”  I would refer the reader to a number of articles that I wrote last year addressing these matters of re prioritizing Defense spending, acquisition reform, DOD Efficiency Plans, and its impact on the DOD Budget.

First Steps - Dr. Ashton B. Carter, who now serves as the deputy defense secretary, developed the ‘Better Buying Power’ initiative just over two years ago and the Department has been implementing its principles ever since.   In May 2010, the Defense Department began a comprehensive multi-year effort to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead costs, and eliminate redundant functions in order to improve the effectiveness of the DOD enterprise. This effort was focused on re-prioritizing how DOD can use resources to more effectively support and sustain the force and most importantly the war fighter. What this was about was not cutting budgets, but rather to reprogram the spending to focus on DOD priorities.  What came out of this study was a four track program to look for efficiencies for DOD spending. First track: The DOD Secretary of Defense directed that the military services find more than $100 billion in overhead savings over the next five years. The services were to keep any savings they generated to invest in higher priority war fighting and modernization needs. The FY2012 thru FY 2017 budgets will reflect the results.   Second track: The department also began seeking ideas, suggestions and proposals from other than official channels, including outside experts, think tanks, the Department’s external boards. The Department also has established a suggestion program to solicit employee ideas. Third Track: The DOD Secretary directed a comprehensive assessment of every aspect of how the department is organized and operated to inform the President’s Budget 2012 thru FY 2017 decisions. The review looked at a number of key areas to affect long-term systemic improvements in DOD operations. Additionally, Under Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter has focused on key acquisition initiatives, which include 23 significant changes to the way the Department contracts for goods and services. Fourth Track: The secretary has identified several areas where the Department can take action now, ahead of and separate from the normal programming and budget submission process, to reduce inefficiencies and overhead. It would appear that the DOD is moving out smartly on a number of fronts.

Improving Acquisition- “We’re going to move on from our past actions onto what I’m going to call ‘Better Buying Power 2.0,’” Kendall said. “It’s one of several things I’m doing to kind of move the acquisition process.”  Kendall explained that he refers to the entirety of the acquisition enterprise when he speaks of acquisition.  “It includes technology, it includes logistics; so my idea of acquisition is the total set of things,” he said.  Acquisitions, he added, involves not just buying new equipment and equipping the nation’s forces, but also sustain the force over time. So the readiness side of it is very much a part of this.  The undersecretary explained some of the efforts he has undertaken to enhance the defense acquisition process, including updating the flagship guidance for defense acquisitions.  “I’m re-writing [DOD] 5000.02, the DOD instruction that covers the acquisition system and how we do business,” Kendall said. “What I found is that there had been a lot of laws that had been a passed that needed to be integrated into the document.”  Secondly, “the document really lays out … one thing called the acquisition system,” Kendall said. “There are so many different types of products that we buy, and so many different ways to structure programs around the type of product that you’re buying, that I really felt that we needed something that emphasized those different ideas,” the undersecretary said. 

DOD Guidance - The new guidance, he said, will include several models for structuring programs. Kendall noted DOD 5000.02 was 20 pages long when he began his career and has now ballooned to about 200 pages.  “Another thing I’m doing -- it’ll be probably around the first of the year -- is putting out a report on the performance of the acquisition system,” Kendall said. “I have a very strong belief that we need to be data-driven in what we do. “I have a sign outside my door that says ‘In God We Trust, all others must bring data,’ he continued. “We’re going to try to take a look … at what actually works. Try to look at the data and try to understand what actually works and how much it works.” Kendall noted the report, which he described as “the beginning of a long journey,” will start to put some quantitative analysis and data analysis into the defense acquisition equation.  “It’s about  putting it out in the public domain so everybody that thinks they’re an expert on acquisition … can go back and look at this data and see if there’s anything in the history that tells us what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

Navigation Vectors for the Microwave Industry

It should be clear that beneath the surface of all the political posturing, there has been a lot of work done on the path forward for the future Defense Budget by DOD leadership, the Administration, and all the military services. Critical thinking and a “reset button” on everything the military has resulted in a new set of Defense priorities, which have been transformed into real plans addressing real concerns.  We have updated thinking on our National Security Strategy, DOD Mission Area emphasis, Future Force Planning, Operational improvements, and DOD Acquisition Reform Initiatives. This hard work has been ongoing for several years now, was started by SECDEF Gates and has been supported by SECDEF Panetta.  And it is clear that it is comprehensive and grounded in some analytical details.   The advances in all these budgetary areas are unprecedented in terms of their scope and impact, and involvement of all the DOD and Military leaders working as a cohesive team. 

Now, bring into the picture the realities of our current national budgetary and fiscal constraints.  There is the annual deficit problem, and the need to reduce our overall National Debt.  In addition, domestic social needs are anticipated to be funded by DOD reductions in funds.  The mindless cuts of sequestration will need to be avoided, which if enacted, could result in a 10% cut across the board at a DOD top line level. All of this will need to be worked and addressed in the Congressional committee process. 

So what does this mean for those of us in the Microwave Industry, those of us that supports the Defense OEMs as our direct customer and depends on the DOD Budget for flow through New Orders revenue to run our businesses?  I would suggest you focus in several key areas outlined below: 

First, look to Defense Program Relevance to Mission Areas as they relate to your products.  As technology providers, we are on the right side of a budget that wants more technology in weapons systems—Advanced Radios, AESA Radars, Networked Systems, and MMW Seekers. We as a group are not hurt by force strength reductions as are other Industries.

Second, look at the application of RF/MW technology to be utilized for System Upgrades. It is clear new platforms will be few and far between and there will be multiple initiatives to upgrade EW, RADAR, COMM/NAV systems.   Understand the Logistics Involved in both Government driven upgrades (USAF Logistic Centers like Warner Robins in Georgia) and how OEM Supply Chains work the Commodity of RF/MW/MMW Technology.

Third, look at customer focus and program support. Getting and keeping close to your customers in this troubled period is a huge given.  Become part of their efforts to fight for your existing programs and product placements. Remember that Programs are under great scrutiny, as On Time/On Schedule/ On Budget performance is a given for Defense Programs.

Fourth, look at Weapons Concepts that depend on RF and MW Technology.  As we look to the new programs that are in the pipeline that address Mission Area focus most require advanced RF/MW/MMW sensors for successful operation.  Whether it’s a Fire and Forget PGM, a new Satellite Communications terminal, a Shipboard AESA Radar, or an advanced networked Broadband soldier radio, its technology is in our sweet spot.  OEMs are all looking for more affordable, yet more advanced technology solutions, they can use to gain competitive advantage in the delivery of their systems.  Leverage your IR&D investments in technology into systems solutions for your customers. 

Fifth, use common sense on understanding the program priorities as they may impact your business. In a challenging fiscal environment where choices will be made on what programs survive,  try to align your business pursuits with market leaders on key programs—and find a way to get on the program.  A good bet is always a good bet.

In Summary, the “ship of state” is turning into some strong headwinds on future Defense spending and these troubled waters are uncharted and potentially treacherous.  The DOD Budget debate this year will likely become an issue that will test our national resolve to address our National Fiscal crisis, while at the same time, adequately fund a Defense Department at the levels required to meet the global threats to our Nation.  Hang on; it will be a wild ride.