If the Department of Defense simply has single-digital cuts due to sequestration, why is the department making drastic cuts? John Johns, deputy assistant secretary of defense for maintenance policy and programs, answered that question today at Aviation Week's DTAR conference outside of Washington.
In short, the military's problem can be summed up by math. The DOD's maintenance budget already had fundamental shortfalls, operations in Afghanistan and removal of equipment is substantially higher than planned, and compounded by sequestration, on top of the billions already cut last year--and having all those cuts in 6 months opposed to a year--multiplies the cuts.
Because the DOD has run out of money, many aircraft and engines will not be inducted for maintenance in the government's third and fourth quarters (through October). Yet, it cannot cut its military personnel, so its costs are high and product lines could go silent, which causes a whole host of other huge expenses to restart them. This all translates to the DOD facing charges in 2014 and 2015 for having a negative net operating result in 2013, which again compounds the problem.
Like Johns said, "restarting lines is not just like flipping a switch" and everything restarts.
Deferred maintenance has big ripple effects that are more like a tsunami, and could take a decade to recover, such as in the case of aircraft carriers.
But the department simply can't stop--it needs to focus its resources on the highest priority maintenance items to minimize the disruption, said Johns.
This is no small task.