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 News Article

Work Departs for Budget, Nuclear Enterprise Trip

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Feb. 9, 2015 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work departed today for a multi-day trip to discuss budget priorities, meet with nuclear enterprise troops and to tour the U.S. Navy’s newest mobile landing platform.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work departs Joint Base Andrews, Md., Feb. 9, 2015, for San Diego, where he will speak at the U.S. Naval Institute's 2015 Western Conference and Exposition. Work is on a multi-day trip to discuss budget priorities, meet with nuclear enterprise troops and tour the U.S. Navy’s newest mobile landing platform. DoD photo by Claudette Roulo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

For his first stop, Work is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2015 WEST Conference in San Diego, where he will underscore the department’s three key budgetary themes.

“We feel very strongly that the 2016 president’s budget submission is a strategy-driven, resource informed budget. The choices that we made throughout the fall review were aligned precisely with the 2014 [Quadrennial Defense Review],” he said.

The most efficient way to undermine this effort -- to implement a budget-driven strategy -- is for sequestration to be allowed to return in 2016, Work said.

“Sequestration will prevent us from executing a strategy that we think is in the best interests of the United States at this point in time,” he said.

“For all of the people who say this isn’t a strategy-driven budget, I’d say, ‘Just wait. Wait until you see what happens if we go to sequestration.’”

The president’s budget is about $154 billion over the cap set by sequestration, Work said. But, he added, even at that level, maintaining a balanced defense program is difficult.

The Defense Department needs one to three percent real growth per year in order to maintain balance between personnel, current and future readiness and modernization, the deputy secretary said.

“We’ve had flat budgets for three years. So, because our forces are in high demand, we have to keep force structure … set, and that’s expensive. We’re trying to dig our way out of the readiness hole, and that’s expensive,” Work said.

As a result, he said, modernization budgets have stayed flat over the past three years.

“So, we believe that our technological superiority is eroding, and that’s one of the things we wanted to address in this budget,” the deputy secretary said.

The president’s budget includes an additional $21 billion over last year’s request, he said, almost entirely directed toward advanced capabilities.

Mobile Landing Platform

Following Work’s speech, he will visit the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company shipyard where the Navy’s newest mobile landing platform is under construction.

The ship he will see is configured as an afloat forward staging base and is equipped with a helicopter landing deck and boat bay. The ship’s adjustable ballast tanks facilitate the movement of forces, equipment and vehicles by raising and lowering the ship’s draft as needed.

Mobile landing platforms are intended to become the centerpiece of the sea base mission. The MLP is designed for use across a wide range of military operations, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response, theater security cooperation and major combat operations.

The visit is, in part, aimed at reassuring the defense industry after several years of flat modernization budgets, Work said.

This will be the deputy secretary’s first opportunity to see an MLP in this configuration, he said, adding, “It’s an exciting new capability for our force.”

The configuration is proving to be so capable that the department has added a third ship, expected to be ready in 2017, the deputy secretary said.

The Nuclear Enterprise

Work’s next stop will be Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, the nation’s only nuclear base to host both bombers and nuclear missiles.

As chair of the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group, the deputy secretary said he has received a great deal of input from the Air Force and Navy’s nuclear forces as the department seeks to correct the deficiencies uncovered last year.

“So I want to go out and talk with the folks and compare what they’re saying,” he said. “Are they seeing the improvements that I’m being told are happening?”

Work said the members of the nuclear enterprise should know that if any defense mission is growing in importance, it is theirs.

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews) 

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