Defense contractors weigh in on possible cuts

Chris Miller, executive director for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, said the defense industry is facing challenges, but not everything is doom and gloom. (Photo/Leslie Burden)

Chris Miller, executive director for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, said the defense industry is facing challenges, but not everything is doom and gloom. (Photo/Leslie Burden)

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 28, 2012

Defense cuts are coming with or without sequestration, Department of Defense officials said during the opening of a defense contractor’s summit in North Charleston today.

“No matter what happens, we will have a smaller defense budget,” said Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer for the Department of the Navy.

The Navy’s and Marine Corps’ demand will not decrease, but the money will, Halvorsen said, so the branch will look at easy places to save money, like printing costs.

Halvorsen said the Navy has instituted policies to cut back on wasted paper, printers and printing, which will help Halvorsen’s own department reach its savings goal of $2 billion.

Robert Jack, the chief information officer for HQ Marines Corps, also warned of looming cuts, and Jack drew a lesson from history.

“In a time of conflict and war, we are not measured on efficiency; we are measured on effectiveness,” Jack said.

Defense contractors and other industry professionals gathered in North Charleston today for the beginning of the C5ISR summit. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
Defense contractors and other industry professionals gathered in North Charleston today for the beginning of the C5ISR summit. (Photos/Leslie Burden)
Defense contractors and other industry professionals gathered in North Charleston today for the beginning of the C5ISR summit. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
The Department of Defense’s budget shrunk after both world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Now, the military is winding down its activities in southwest Asia, Jack said, and its war in Afghanistan. The defense budget will decline in the next 10 to 15 years, he said.

“It’s a realization of the last 15 or so years, we’ve been consuming above the norm on the budget side with little appetite for suppression,” Jack said. “We’re going to have to do some things a little smarter.”

Chris Miller, executive director for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, also addressed the country’s fiscal issues, but he framed the debate differently.

A lot of people want to talk about doom and gloom, Miller said, and about fiscal cliffs and job losses and economic hardship.

“I’m here to tell you I don’t think that’s the way we (have) to view the world,” Miller said, adding the demands on SPAWAR and the employees there are as strong as ever. “I know it’s a lot of politics out there. A lot of people want to talk about the negative things. I want to talk about the positive things.”

The remarks came during the opening of the sixth annual C5ISR Government and Industry Partnership Summit, organized by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.

The summit runs through Friday and features speakers from the Department of Defense, defense contractors and other companies. More than 1,000 people are attending the event.

The summit is also featuring its first Code-a-thon, a competition to build a mobile app that benefits warfighters.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, a 12-hour coding window for the teams to create their app. On Thursday, each team will have three minutes to demonstrate its app, and the crowd will vote for their favorite.

Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.

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