Washington DCCongressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Service Committee, released the following statement prior to today’s hearing on the Department of Defense’s proposed budget reductions and efficiencies initiatives:

“The primary duty of the House Armed Services Committee is to provide for the security and safety of our country. Our country faces many challenges and we must continue to make certain we have the proper resources and policies in place to meet the threats that we face not only today, but also in the future. This is, and will remain, my top priority.

“We must also ensure that every dollar spent on defense is done so in an effective and efficient manner. Simply spending more money does not make us safer – spending money effectively and wisely does. Therefore, as responsible policy makers, it is our job to improve efficiencies and identify and eliminate sources of wasteful spending, while at the same time investing in the programs and polices that make us safer.

“With this in mind, I applaud Secretary Gates’ initial announcement that the Department of Defense has identified approximately $178 billion in potential savings and overhead efficiencies in its five-year base (non-war funding) budget plan. Roughly $100 billion of that total amount would be reinvested into key operating needs and high priority military programs, and about $78 billion will go toward reducing the deficit. While Congress will certainly want to review the specific details of this proposal, it appears to be a good first step in the right direction.

“Reflected in this proposal is an understanding that spending wisely is a more effective policy than spending just for the sake of spending. As our nation looks to address the looming crisis with respect to the national deficit and debt, spending defense dollars wisely not only makes sense for our national security, but it also makes for good fiscal policy. In the coming weeks, as the committee begins its work crafting the Fiscal Year 2012 Defense Authorization Bill, I look forward to thoroughly reviewing the details of these proposals along with the President’s budget request.”