recommended reading

Panetta ties TRICARE fee increases to maintaining key programs, personnel

AP photo

At a Pentagon press briefing on Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said congressional tinkering with the $613 billion 2013 Defense Department budget could have unintended consequences and result in a hollow force. Flanked by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Panetta also defended the long-term Defense strategy unveiled in January, saying it will help the Pentagon to slash its budget by $487 billion over the next 10 years.

In March, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, told a National Journal forum that senior military commanders were dishonest in presenting Congress with a budget request he doesn't believe they fully support. After Dempsey charged Ryan with calling senior military leaders liars, Ryan backed off and said, "I really misspoke."

While not addressing Ryan directly, Panetta emphasized that the department's military leadership backed both the 2013 budget and the Defense strategy, which aims to develop a lean, postwar force focused on the Asia-Pacific region and enabled by technology, especially cyber, space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

Panetta said the 2013 budget is a "zero-sum game" and any changes to it will require cuts in key systems and projects that support the long-term strategy.

The budget includes increases in fees for the Defense TRICARE health insurance program ranging from $35 to $155 per month for military retirees in an effort to curb spiraling health care costs. Defense Comptroller Robert Hale said in February that these increases, after four years, would boost retiree health care costs to just under $2,000 a year, compared with the $4,000 per year federal civilian employees pay.

The National Association for Uniformed Services called on Congress today to stop the increase in TRICARE fees. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp, NAUS President and chief executive officer, said, "It's an outrage to hear DoD tell military retirees that the costs for promised benefits are squeezing out available resources for our national defense."

Panetta said if Congress does not go along with the TRICARE fee increases this will amount to a $13 billion hit to the long-term Defense budget, which could affect readiness and possibly lead to reductions in troop strength.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.