Defense

November 14, 2012

Deficit cutters look to Pentagon budget

One war is done, another is winding down and the calls to cut the deficit are deafening. The U.S. military, a beneficiary of robust budgets for more than a decade, is coming to grips with a new reality – fewer dollars.

The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic that next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard-of reductions in defense.

President Barack Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year. Those reductions are part of the so-called fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the across-the-board cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned would be devastating to the military.

All sides are trying to come up with a deficit-cutting plan of $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Any solution that might emerge from the high-stakes negotiations before the Jan. 2 deadline likely would include some reductions in the military budget, which has nearly doubled in the last decade to half a trillion dollars. That amount doesn’t include the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Projected defense spending over the next 10 years was expected to grow to $640 billion.

In the parlance of Willie Sutton, who supposedly said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was, the military budget is where the dollars are for Washington negotiators.

“It is a big piggybank,” said former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican who along with Democrat Erskine Bowles had recommended $4 trillion in budget cuts over a decade, including deep reductions in defense, as part of a special presidential commission in December 2010.

“If you can’t get in there and start getting stuff out of there when you have a defense budget of 740 billion bucks – and the defense budget of every major country on earth, 17 of them, including Russia and China, is $540 billion combined, who is joshing who?” said Simpson. “That’s madness, madness.”

One possible starting point is the recommendation of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who indicated earlier this year that he would be willing to accept additional defense cuts of $10 billion a year as part of any solution to avoid the across-the-board cuts.

“I think it’s got to be all one package, and defense has to participate. Everything has to be on the table,” said former Sen. Sam Nunn, a predecessor of Levin at the helm of Armed Services who also insisted that the rising cost of Social Security and Medicare needs to be addressed.

Nunn pointed out that former Defense Secretary Bob Gates and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said the greatest threat to national security is the nation’s fiscal crisis.

In past negotiations, Congress and the White House had considered changes in the military’s TRICARE health program, which costs more than $50 billion and has exploded into the biggest entitlement program for the Pentagon. Working-age military retirees have only seen small increases in their premium costs as their friends in Congress have fought any changes.

The Pentagon budget already is facing a 10-year reduction of $487 billion in projected spending, the result of the budget agreement reached by Obama and Congress in August 2011.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines March 30, 2015

News: Pentagon chief mulls easing military enlistment standards - Defense Secretary Ash Carter is considering easing some military enlistment standards as part of a broader set of initiatives to better attract and keep quality service members and civilians across the Defense Department.   Business: Lockheed pays $2 million to settle government overbilling charges - Lockheed Martin Corpor...
 
 

News Briefs March 30, 2015

Landing mishap for military chopper; two aboard unhurt Two Navy officers were unhurt after their helicopter rolled on its side while landing in the Florida Panhandle. The mishap happened the night of March 27 at a Navy landing site in Pensacola, Fla. The Pensacola News Journal reports a pilot instructor and a student were able...
 
 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Matt Hecht

Laser-based aircraft countermeasure provides ‘unlimited rounds’ against MANPADS

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Matt Hecht A U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter prepares to depart Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Jan 7, 2012. The Apache conducts distributed operations, precision strikes against relocat...
 

 

Navy, Air Force advocate for modernizing combat aviation

Top Navy and Air Force officials today told the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2016 will support modernizing combat aviation programs. Cavy Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisitions; Air...
 
 

Raytheon wins $46 million contract for South Korean Global Hawk ground stations

Raytheon has been awarded a contract valued at up to $45.7 million by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems for ground segments in support of four Global Hawk unmanned aircraft systems recently purchased by the Republic of Korea. Under this contract, Raytheon will deliver one building-based and one mobile ground segment to locations in South Korea. Work...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Victor J. Caputo

McConnell community marks B-29 rollout

Air Force photograph by SrA. Victor J. Caputo A B-29 Superfortress aircraft, named Doc after its nose art, sit on the flightline March 23, 2015, in Wichita, Kan. Doc will be one of two Superfortresses in the world capable of fl...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>