December 30, 2004


Pentagon Said to Offer Cuts in the Billions (ERIC SCHMITT, 12/30/04, NY Times)

The Pentagon plans to retire one of the Navy's 12 aircraft carriers, buy fewer amphibious landing ships for the Marine Corps and delay the development of a costly Army combat system of high-tech arms as part of $60 billion in proposed cuts over the next six years, Congressional and military officials said Wednesday.

The proposed reductions, the details of which are still being fine-tuned and which would require Congressional approval, result from White House orders to all federal agencies to cut their spending requests for the 2006 fiscal year budgets, which will be submitted to lawmakers early next year.

Since the November elections, the White House has been under growing pressure to offset mounting deficits and at the same time pay for the unexpectedly high costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which combined now amount to more than $5 billion a month.

The proposed Pentagon cuts, which include sharply reducing the program for the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter and delaying the purchase of a new Navy destroyer, would for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks slow the growth in Pentagon spending, which has risen 41 percent in that period, to about $420 billion this year. Military and Congressional officials said the Pentagon was looking to trim up to $10 billion in the 2006 budget alone.

The budget-cutting is likely to foreshadow additional reductions of weapons designed in the cold war and the revamping of America's arsenal as the Pentagon prepares for its quadrennial review of military weapons and equipment to address current and long-term security threats, including the insurgency in Iraq and a possibly resurgent China.

That's why Don Rumsfeld's job is safe, but the War on Terror having been won, cuts should be far deeper.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 30, 2004 9:59 AM

Everyone wants the bugdet reduced but not by cuts in their favorite programs. For liberals these are usually in welfare/education/HHS/environment spending. For conservatives this is usually in defense spending. The trick for Bush will be to cut the defense budget without being subject to attacks that he is gutting the military (the way Clinton did).

Posted by: AWW at December 30, 2004 10:07 AM

Another point - I will be much more encouraged when I start seeing articles saying EPA/HHS/Commerce/Interior/Education to offer cuts in the billions.

Posted by: AWW at December 30, 2004 10:28 AM

"The War on Terror being won". Good one OJ! How can the WoT be won when the worlds #1 supporter of terrorism (Iran) be free to develope nukes? Or Syria still letting the terrorists in Iraq use them as a base? I could go on but you get my point. I'd say it about 1/2 over. And as long as 50% of the public remains uninformed to what is really happening our chances of total victory are about 50-50. A half-assed, declare victory at any outcome I would put at 100%

Posted by: BJW at December 30, 2004 11:45 AM

AWW --

So far as the cuts do not result in troop size (or benefits) reductions akin to those experienced during the Clinton years, the "gutting" claims would fall on deaf ears. (Other than in the Congressional District where the Cold War hardware is made.) If they use some cuts to fund a gradual increase in troop stregth, no serious person would be unhappy.

Posted by: Moe from NC at December 30, 2004 12:31 PM


Iran's done and Syria never mattered.

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2004 1:28 PM

The War on Terror has been won? What, Islamic fundies are no longer a threat? Now I think I've heard it all.

Orrin, in what way do you consider Iran 'done'?

Posted by: creeper at December 30, 2004 2:45 PM

Could ship reduction be the motivation for Senator Lott's cheap shots at the Secretary of defense?

Posted by: tgn at December 30, 2004 4:11 PM


Khomeinism is considered a failure by the overwhelming majority of the population and with Palestine and Lebanon getting their independence the mullahs foreign escapades are approaching an end. They face a far greater threat from a democratic Shiastan in Iraq than they ever did from Saddam.

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2004 4:31 PM

The $10 billion per could easily be saved by reducing our obviously unwanted presence in Old Europe.

BJW, you are basically correct except for one thing. The #1 terrorist state in the world is Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Bart at December 30, 2004 4:41 PM

There may not be a single army, navy, air force or marine base in the world that I wouldn't get rid of before getting rid of a carrier battle group.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 30, 2004 5:15 PM

do both.

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2004 5:26 PM

Rumsfeld, just another brilliant appointment of the moron, Bush. Whatta guy! The media don't even feel the knife going in.

Posted by: erp at December 30, 2004 5:38 PM


While I am in favor of carrier battle groups, it is worth noting they deliver less combat power more slowly and expensively than an AF bomber wing.


Before deciding how much to cut the Defense budget, it is wise to ensure that the result doesn't represent a strategy-resource mismatch.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 30, 2004 8:30 PM

Jeff: True, but geography is almost irrelevant to a bomber wing these days. (OK, a little exagerated, but we flew combat missions to Iraq out of Missouri.)

Posted by: David Cohen at December 30, 2004 9:21 PM

Not numbers, but quality. R&D must keep going forward. Si vis pacem, not just now, but 20 or 30 years hence,. . .we all know the rest.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 30, 2004 11:08 PM


Our failure to utilize the mismatch is why we should cut the alternatives.

Posted by: oj at December 30, 2004 11:12 PM

If we had to fight a war to defend the independence of Taiwan, we'd need as many carrier battlegroups as we could muster.

But I suppose, if we could add the equivalent of one Army mechanized infantry division and one Marine Corps brigade, I'd support the reduction in naval aviation.

Posted by: J Baustian at December 31, 2004 2:05 AM


We wouldn't need any--but if we had them we'd use them and that would be tragic.

Posted by: oj at December 31, 2004 8:13 AM

The only serious military threat the PRC poses to Taiwan for the foreseeable future is a submarine based blockade. They do not really have a blue water navy and they do not have the capacity to convey large numbers of men and materiel across the Straits of Taiwan. An air force whose star pilots are of the caliber of Wong Wei and whose planes are 2 generations old does not frighten anyone.

I don't know that a carrier group in the South China Sea helps deal with this threat but it probably couldn't hurt. Certainly, it poses the promise of direct retaliation against the Mainland, which is something the plutocrat/generals don't want.

Posted by: Bart at December 31, 2004 9:29 AM