Esper says budget will have new tech investments

By Tony Bertuca / January 23, 2020 at 7:03 AM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper provided a brief budget preview yesterday, telling reporters the Pentagon intends to invest new money in weapon system modernization.

The Defense Department, along with the rest of the federal government, is scheduled to submit its budget to Congress on Feb. 10.

Esper, who was confirmed in July, said he did not have as much impact on the fiscal year 2021 request as he will have on the FY-22 version, but touted the fact that DOD has found $5 billion in efficiencies within the civilian management agencies collectively known as the “Fourth Estate.”

“The bottom line is I think when we look at our defense-wide review, we found over $5 billion,” he said, according to a DOD transcript.

“That money is going into lethality and readiness and stuff like that,” he continued. “So I think that's something that we can take ownership of, and . . . I'm not sure that's been done in the past.”

Esper said the U.S. nuclear and space portfolios would be key priorities, along with hypersonics, artificial intelligence and directed energy.

“So thematically, that's what you'll see, is this continued pivot to the capabilities that we need for the strategic competition today and in the future,” he said.

Esper recently sent a memo to military leaders calling for them to look for efficiencies within their spending toplines to inform the FY-22 budget build.

Esper also intends to review all U. S. combatant commands.

“In short, I expect leaders across the department to approach reform as an opportunity to support the strategy, rather than a tax that can be avoided," he wrote in the memo.