That’s Jamie M. Morin, who testified last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee as the nominee for director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation. CAPE is the Pentagon’s unit that provides independent analytic cost assessments of current and future military programs, along with development of the FYDP.
His problems won’t go away unless Congress by some miracle — before the new Jan. 15 deadline — comes up with a fiscal 2014 Pentagon budget that promises some stability.
Morin, who is currently an assistant secretary of the Air Force, told the senators, “One of the key reasons that our Department of Defense is the envy of the world and our military establishment is the envy of the world is the really robust planning, programming, budgeting, execution process that we use.”
But, he frankly added, “I think the [current] instability really puts at risk that entire, well-articulated, effective set of institutions that strive to squeeze that maximum amount of combat capability out of each taxpayer dollar. It’s doing enormous and untold damage to the institution.”
Michael Lumpkin, slated to become assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, described the sequester — the across-the-board cuts required in fiscal 2013 discretionary defense spending — as endangering the projected slowly planned growth of Special Operations Command from 65,000 to 71,000 personnel. That’s accompanied by increases in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and other support elements.
“Special operations cannot be mass-produced. It’s not one of those things that you can just run it on and off, like a light switch. It takes time and there’s a significant process that goes to making a special operator,” said Lumpkin, a former Navy SEAL. “I have real concerns about the morale of both our armed forces and the federal workers, based on the current climate.”
Jo Ann Rooney, nominated to be Navy undersecretary, had a different issue. Asked whether the Navy would uphold its legal obligation to meet financial audit deadlines set for 2014 and 2017, she said she couldn’t make that determination because there was “the inability to make sure that there is the appropriate hiring to fill those slots.” In addition, she noted, it’s “also the uncertainty with our people in being able to allow them to sit back and think on a time horizon that is longer term with certainty.”
A personnel specialist, Rooney said so much uncertainty among key people could lead to many decamping for private industry because they “just can’t face that uncertainty.”
It’s not as if the Pentagon was great at handling its budget over the past decade.