January 6, 2011


How to cut $1 trillion from the Pentagon ( Lawrence Korb, 1/05/11, CNNMoney)

First, we need to analyze whether the current force we are funding actually supports the strategy. As Gates himself has noted, we will not again do regime change and nation building under fire, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. In dealing with al Qaeda, the new strategy will most likely be the one currently being used in Yemen and Pakistan. In those countries, we employ comparatively small numbers of Special Forces supplemented by strikes by unmanned aircraft or drones.

Second, we need to ask why we still have 150,000 troops stationed in Europe and Asia, 65 years after the end of World War II, especially when our European allies are slashing their defense budgets to deal with their deficits.

Returning the sizes of the Army and Marine Corps to their pre-Iraq invasion levels will allow us to cut about 100,000 people at a savings of at least $15 billion a year. And reducing troops in Europe and Asia by 50,000 will yield another $10 billion a year.

Third, we can eliminate or scale back weapons that deal with threats that are from a bygone era, are way over budget or are just plain flawed.

Included on this list would be the 573 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles the Marines want to build at a cost of $15 billion when they have not conducted an amphibious landing under fire in over 60 years. Another example: The $13 billion the Navy wants to build a new aircraft carrier, when as Gates has said, we should reduce the number of carriers from 11 to 10.
0:00 /10:43Brainstorming budget deficit

Also included would be the $238 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the Pentagon is rushing into production. Its cost has doubled and it is experiencing severe technological problems. What's more, our existing fighter planes are the best in the world and unmanned aircraft are taking over more and more missions.

There are other examples: We spend $50 billion a year maintaining 1,968 strategic nuclear weapons, when an analysis by the Air War College says that 311 are more than adequate for deterrence. And the Marines spent $110 million on each V-22 tilt rotor Osprey, when in Iraq the aircraft's full mission capability fell significantly below required levels.

Fourth, the Pentagon needs to reform health care and pay. Raising health care premiums, which have not increased since 1995, would save $6 billion a year. And another $5.5 billion a year could be saved by changing the benchmark used for giving annual raises to military personnel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2011 7:34 AM
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