View Full Version : SOCom reportedly wins budget battle

09-26-2009, 11:33 AM
SOCom reportedly wins budget battle

By Sean D. Naylor - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Sep 26, 2009 10:22:49 EDT

In a sign that Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ efforts to force his department to focus more on irregular warfare are having some impact, U.S. Special Operations Command has been spared from having to cut portions of its force to pay for new capabilities, a command source said.

That is the upshot of what the source called “a gargantuan battle” between the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michéle Flournoy on one side and the office of Marine Lt. Gen. Emerson Gardner, the Pentagon’s director of cost assessment and program evaluation, or CAPE, on the other.

As part of the Quadrennial Defense Review, CAPE told Special Operations Command in early September that the command would have to find “offsets” to pay for additional capabilities, even those that SOCom was being ordered to add, rather than those the command had initiated, the SOCom source said.

The command and its service components went to work to identify possible offsets. Among the proposed bill payers were the headquarters of the fourth battalions being added to each active Army Special Forces group, several special operations sources said.

Meanwhile, Special Operations Command representatives, led by deputy commander Army Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, protested that they were being forced to pay for capabilities for which the command hadn’t asked, the SOCom source said.

“It went up to Flournoy and company and they said … ‘SOCom’s not paying this … Why would we make SOCom take internal trade-offs to pay for new irregular-warfare investments when you’re already the irregular-warfare piece of the department?’ ” the source said.

“We have been told that the Michéle Flournoy crowd has won the argument and that SOCom will not pay its own offsets for things that were thrust upon it,” the SOCom source said.

Flournoy’s stance reflected Gates’ stated intent to improve the military’s ability to handle irregular warfare, according to the source.

“What we’re talking about here is shifting the department away from big wars and toward small wars,” the source said. “The offsets the secretary is demanding are [from] big wars to pay for more small-war capacity.”

A senior command official agreed that reorienting the Pentagon away from its traditional focus on major conventional wars is at the heart of the debate.

“This discussion is about how do you rebalance the department toward the war that you’re in,” the senior official said. “It was difficult for us to find offsets.”

However, any debate that may have occurred in the Pentagon was just part of the regular budget cycle, he said.

“This is the normal process,” he said, adding that he knew nothing about any involvement by Flournoy.

The Pentagon was keeping mum on the issue. “It is our policy not to discuss internal deliberations,” Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said.