Saturday, July 11, 2009

He'll get to work one day







Yesterday the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Joint Readiness, Air and Land Forces and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces met to take testimony from General James Amos with the Marines and General Peter Chiarelli with the Army. Amos' big news is that all the marines equipment will be out of Iraq at the end of 2010 but not all of the marines. The press has maintained otherwise. We will be out of Iraq, the marines will be," declared Amos, "with the exception of just a few, by this time next year, the equipment will be out of Iraq, being repaired and going to the home stations."

Repaired? With regards to Chiarelli and the army, the big news appeared to be that money was being wasted because military equipment being reset is not also being repaired. This was referred

Roscoe Bartlett: I want to follow up with a question asked by Mr. Forbes, the army's 2010 request for reset is about $11 billion which nearly 8 billion -- 7.9 billion is for operations and maintenance and 3.1 billion for procurement. Now from 2007 to 2010, the O and M portion has been pretty constant at about 8 billion but the procurement portion has dropped to less than fifty percent of what it was in '07. I know '07 was a bit higher than it might have been because we were short in '06. But at just the time when we need more money because of all this reset, now we have less money. And if we're going to justify this on the basis of this new rule that you can't upgrade when you're repairing the equipment than I have a problem with that because what an opportunity we have when it's in there for maintenance repair why can't we upgrade? It seems to me to be very short sighted and I'm wondering why the money wasn't there? Did the army ask for more than 11 billion and 11 billion was all you could get?

Peter Chiarelli: My understanding is no, sir, we did not. We understood with the new overseas contingency operations rules were going to be, that amount, that three-billion-plus in procurement can only be used for washouts or vehicles or aircraft that are destroyed. And for the most part -- although like all these rules, they change -- for the most part, the recap -- or adding on -- is not allowed in FY10 and that drove down the amount of money we needed for procurement.

Roscoe Bartlett: But sir, why not? Isn't it our goal to have a better and better military? To support our people? Why shouldn't we upgrade? And isn't this a very short sighted program?

Peter Chiarelli: Sir, you'd have to ask the folks who wrote the new rules. Uhm. I-I think that it makes a lot of sense to upgrade when we can. It's kind of like paving a road. Uh, you know, it's better to put the sewer system in before you pave the road. It's-it's not a good idea to, in fact, pave the road and then decide to dig it up to put the sewer system in. So when we have equipment in and are able to do that -- that was a plus and allowed us to recap equipment. But the new rules are that we cannot do that.

Roscoe Bartlett: Well I think Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says that the Congress makes the rules. And, Mr. Chairman [Ortez], I think we need to take a look at that. Thank you very much and I yield back.

Solomon Ortez: Chairman Abercrombie.

Neil Abercrombie: I want to follow up, General, on what Mr. Bartlett just was dealing with when he says the Congress makes the rules. I'm not clear from your answer to Mr. Bartlett. What-what part of what the Congress wants you to do is being thwarted by whomever is making these rules? Who made this rule?

Peter Chiarelli: Sir, my understanding is they come out of OMB

Neil Abercrombie: I'm sorry?

Peter Chiarelli: Sir, my understanding is they come out of OMB. They write --

Neil Abercrombie: So you -- this is very important to me -- you take orders from OMB and not from the Defense Bill?

Peter Chiarelli: I, um, I can only tell you what I know now right now, sir, is the rules -- and I don't question who makes rules --

Neil Abercrombie: Well maybe rules is the wrong way. I'm not trying to be argumentative here at all. But this is serious business because the questions I have have to do with inventory and our capacity to do an accurate inventory so that I can make from -- Mr. Bartlett and I, I should say, because we do this together -- make recommendations to our subcommittee members and the committee as a whole. We try to this in a way that reflects your needs and if you're telling me that -- or telling Mr. Bartlett -- that someone in the Office of Management and Budget is able to countermand, I guess, what we're doing, how on earth are we supposed to make an accurate assessment, let alone recommendation, to follow up on, uh, requests that you're making today, let alone what has been made in the past. I'm not quite sure about your answer. Are you saying that your present -- your present course of action, when you make decisions with regard to the context established by Mr. Bartlett, that you're not paying any attention to the Defense Bill?

Peter Chiarelli: I'm not saying that. I'm saying --

Neil Abercrombie: Then why -- I really need to know what it is that we're dealing with here.

Peter Chiarelli: I can only tell you what the people I trust to put together our request to Congress have indicated to us: In FY10, as a general rule, we are not allowed to recap equipment. And that has brought down the amount of money that we requested for procurement as part of reset.

Neil Abercrombie: So you don't need additional funds? Is that right?

Peter Chiarelli: I am telling you --

Neil Abercrombie: Because we could reallocate funds. Believe me, I've got requests, Mr. Bartlett has requests right now, if your answer is is that you don't need this money and that which was represented to us -- whether I was in the minority or the majority because we've been on this subcommittee for some period of time now -- so those estimates from before were inaccurate?

Peter Chiarelli: Let me be perfectly clear --

Neil Abercrombie: I hope so.

Peter Chiarelli: -- this --

Neil Abercrombie: Because believe me I'll make some recommendations for re-allocations. Absolutely, I will.

Peter Chiarelli: We are in fact able -- with the budget we have and what we've requested to you to do what you asked me to come here and talk about today and that is reset our equipment. That is bring our equipment up to 1020 standards and 1020 standards meaning that it is fully capable to do its mission with minor deficiencies at best. We do not bring it to a recap situation. We are able to reset our equipment exactly as defined with the money we've been given by Congress.

Neil Abercrombie: Okay, if that's the case then, what do -- what system is in place then, whether it's from the OMB or yourself, to accurately asses inventory. The reason that I ask this question, in following up on Mr. Bartlett's observations and inquiry, is that just in shipping containers alone, you read the GAO reports, shipping containers alone, we can't get, our subcommittee staff, is unable to get an accurate answer as to what we need even from containers for equipment because we can't get a handle on your inventory. What inventory process is in place right now? And do you have confidence in it?

Peter Chiarelli: I have confidence in our inventory. I have confidence not only that commanders down range like I was twice maintaining inventory of both their TO and E equipment that they bring over with them plus the troop provided equipment. Uh, we have had many looks at our equipment down range to make sure that accountability standards are high. Uh, and they are. Uh and we feel very, very good that we know what we've got down range and what we will in fact be bringing back and what is in troop provided -- theater provided equipment which they issue to units when they arrive in theater

Neil Abercrombie: So the GAO reports on the capacity for you to accurately assess inventory is incorrect.

Peter Chiarelli: I believe --

Neil Abercrombie: I'll send it to you.
Peter Chiarelli: Thank you, sir.

Neil Abercrombie: And I would appreciate your response. This is a serious question because, again, this involves numbers, including billions of dollars. Believe me, we are looking right now for billions of dollars possibly for reallocation because of other demands. So-so if you don't need this money and you're sure your inventory assessment is absolutely correct seems to me I'm going to have a hell of a lot more flexibility than I thought I had.

Peter Chiarelli: Uh, we too understand the tru-tremendous fiscal re - crisis that our country has gone though. The economic situation. And one of the reasons why there's no question as long as we can reset our equipment we understand because of fiscal requirements it may be in the best interest of our country as a whole to cut back on the amount of recap we're doing so it did not seem odd to me --

Neil Abercrombie: Okay, excuse me. In the fiscal interests, is that the basis? Are you in conversations with these folks at OMB?

Peter Chiarelli: I have not, sir.

Neil Abercrombie: Who would have had these conversations?

Peter Chiarelli: It would have taken place at the Office of Secretary of Defense, OSD.

Neil Abercrombie: So the Secretary of Defense is saying that you need -- at least from my calculations here -- approximately 2 billion dollars less than you said you needed previously with regard to reset on the basis of -- what was the phrase you used? Fiscal discipline or fiscal necessity?

Peter Chiarelli: We understand that we all have to be very, very careful with the dollars that we spend. And, uhm, people have made a decision that we will not recap equipment in FY10. That seems to me to be understandable.

Neil Abercrombie: Okay, it's understandable, yes. Do you think it's good policy?

Peter Chiarelli: If-if-if I had the ability to recap equipment, if we had the money to recap equipment I think it would make sense --

Neil Abercrombie: That's not the question I asked. Do you think you need the money to recap? In you professional judgment, that's what we're asking for today, not from a politician appointed in the OMB. I'm asking for your professional judgment today with regard: Do you need money to recap?

Peter Chiarelli: If I had the ability to recap, I would recap for all the reasons I have stated.

Neil Abercrombie: You think the policy then of not being able to do that which is reflected in your -- in the numbers that are given to us -- is not good policy?

Peter Chiarelli: I-I-I can't say that and I won't say that. And I won't say that because I understand that the people who make those rules, make those decisions, have to take many other things into consideration. And that is why --

Neil Abercrombie: Yes, they have to take into consideration what we say is in the Defense Bill because we're reflecting -- we are trying to reflect -- I'm trying to help you here. Because, believe me, if you give me this answer, I want to know, and right now what you're telling me is is that -- is that in your professional judgment the-the rules or the-the policy or the-the-the admonitions that you've been given or the directions that you're operating under reflects your professional judgment of what the necessities for the army are right now.

Peter Chiarelli: If I had the authority and the ability to recap, I would. I --

Neil Abercrombie: Okay, thank you. If Congress gives you the authority under the Defense Bill then that would reflect your professional opinion that you could use at least 13 billion dollars a year rather than 11 billion --

Peter Chiarelli: I can't -- I can't give you those numbers.

Neil Abercrombie: Well okay. You don't have to -- well, those are the numbers we have been given previously.

Peter Chiarelli: Previous years?

Neil Abercrombie: Yes.

Peter Chiarelli: I'd have to go back and ask the -- we just don't go --

Neil Abercrombie: I won't go further. Mr. Chairman, this is serious business. We're under the gun here in the Defense Bill to make accurate numbers and put them forward for everybody to consider and now we have to make a decision whether OMB does this because, what the hell, we don't need a committee here if-if-if somebody down in OMB, this is a political appointment. It's all political appointments and if we're going to do it on the basis of-of what somebody else decides in the executive is-is a budget number as opposed to what our obligation is which is to provide for you and the people who serve under you and under your command then we have a real dilemma here. I have a real dilemma because I can't accurately, I cannot in good conscience say to Chairman Ortiz or to the other members that we're giving a number that adequately responds to what you believe to be in your professional judgment a necessity. Understand my motivation here?

Peter Chiarelli: I hope you understand mine. I-I understand also that you have to take many other things into consideration when putting together our budget. That's all I'm saying to you.

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