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Report: The Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon on Moderate Defense Cuts

The deadline for sequestration is fast approaching. Does anyone believe that cuts to the defense budget are not central to legitimate attempts to contain the federal budget?

Since defense spending must be cut, the devil is in the details.

The folks at Brookings ask, "How much can the Pentagon's budget be cut without threatening U.S. national security and global stability? What kind of military can the U.S. afford at this juncture in our nation’s history?"

The answers come from Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon. His latest foreign policy/defense paper, A Moderate Plan for Additional Budget Cuts, suggests how the DoD could cut certain weapons, forces, and other capabilities in ways that could save up to $200 billion over 10 years. Obviously, the answer lies in making the DoD "more efficient, eliminating waste, making reforms that allow things to be handled more effectively, and examining specific programs that are deemed wasteful or outdated."

You can read A Moderate Plan for Additional Budget Cuts, available on the Brookings website at this link.

The report includes the following recommendations, as well as a number of others:

    •The size of the active-duty Army and Marine Corps could be reduced modestly below their 1990s levels (to say 450,000 soldiers and 160,000 Marines); current plans are to keep them slightly above those levels. Ten-year savings relative to the administration’s existing plans could reach about $80 billion.
    •Rather than increase its fleet, the Navy could employ innovative approaches like “sea swap,” by which some crews are rotated via airplane while ships stay forward deployed longer. This idea and more forward home-porting of attack submarines at Guam could eventually allow the Navy to get by with 260 to 270 ships rather than 286. Ten year savings could be $25 billion.
    •The F-35 joint strike fighter, a good plane but an expensive one, could be scaled back by roughly half from its current intended buy of 2,500 airframes, at an eventual annual savings of more than $5 billion but with only modest cumulative savings of $10 billion to $20 billion over the coming decade (as some planes should be bought promptly).

Check it out.  While I'd like to see more graft/pork programs cut than forces/projection, I think this paper is a good place to start the serious discussion.

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