Deputy Secretary Bill Lynn, acquisition head Ashton Carter, and JCS Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright  testified before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees this week on DoD’s Efficiencies Initiative” announced in September (Highlights, September 17).  The witnesses all expressed solid support for the savings measures Secretary Gates proposed to shift resources and priorities within the current DoD budget topline in order to maintain and modernize key military capabilities.  Lynn told Senators that bridging the funding gap between the Department’s needs and the future resources projected in the budget “requires culling the department’s massive overhead costs and structures, the ‘tail,’ and directing them to our fighting forces and modernization accounts, the ‘tooth’.”  He described the department’s approach to implementing the initiatives as proceeding along four tracks:  1) finding $100 billion in savings over the next five years that can be reallocated to priority warfighting and modernization needs; 2) seeking suggestions from industry and advisory boards on new ideas to achieve efficiencies; 3) reviewing how the department is organized and operated to come up with changes to how DoD does business; and 4)  implementing 23 initiatives on defense acquisition and contracting.  Lynn said that a task force, chaired by the Secretary’s chief of staff Robert Rangel, would track the development and execution of action plans to implement these initiatives.  He acknowledged that there will be economic consequences, such as job losses and lower business activity, as well as congressional controversy over the Secretary’s reform agenda.  But, he asked for Congress’ cooperation in helping the department make the resource reallocations necessary  to invest in the nation’s military capabilities.  Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics discussed specific acquisition and contracting proposals.  He underscored the benefit of reduced costs from establishing affordability requirements for programs and requiring acquisition heads and industry to plan for what program should cost, not what historical estimates imply they will cost.  Carter emphasized the need for increased competition to improve productivity and innovation.  He said that competition “is the most powerful tool to the Department to drive productivity."  Gen. Cartwright reiterated the department’s case for dismantling Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).  He said that when JFCOM was created the department knew it was adding another organization layer, but reasoned that the benefits from advancing jointness exceeded the costs.  Carter believes that the military accepts the concept of jointness as the preferred method of operating and DoD can now reduce costs by disestablishing JFCOM.  He said the proposal has the unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs.