Surdu: DoD cost-cutting to hurt essential programs

Wednesday - 12/1/2010, 4:11pm EST

The cost-cutting campaign launched by Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to hit the wrong targets, says Army Colonel John "Buck" Surdu in an interview with National Defense.

Surdu has an extensive career in managing technology and weapon programs. He said he has seen this kind of cost-cutting before and it's not the fat that is cut out of the budget but usually the essential programs.

Surdu said there is enough wasteful spending in defense that the Pentagon could afford to make substantial cuts without jeopardizing essential programs. He pointed to questionable overhead costs in administration.

Gates has asked overhead expenses be cut in a sweeping drive to reduce the Defense budget by $100 billion over the next five years. He said his goal is to trim unnecessary layers of management and administrative costs.

Surdu called those goals worthy ambitions but unrealistic. He told National Defense that his organization - the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Communications-Electronics Center, or CERDEC - is already seeing some of the fallout from cutbacks taking place in a lot of technology programs.