In an effort to help policymakers determine how to reduce the Defense Department budget without cutting essential combat capabilities, a Stimson Center report issued today compiles options and recommendations proposed by official groups and agencies that would save nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.
The report does not endorse any specific cuts. It acknowledges that some of the compiled recommendations would represent double-counting if all were implemented and that all face political opposition. As a result, it is impossible that the entire package of cuts will be enacted.
“Officials in the Pentagon, the White House and Congress will benefit by having a broad group of proposed cuts gathered in one report,” said Barry Blechman, Stimson co-founder and distinguished fellow, who is one of three co-authors of the report. “If only 20 percent of the reductions we’ve listed – amounting to $200 billion over 10 years – are enacted, it would greatly relieve pressures on needed military capabilities.”
“This report can help policymakers make the choices necessary to reduce defense spending,” Blechman added. “At a time of tight budgets across the federal government, the key defense budget issue facing policymakers today isn’t whether to cut, but where to cut.”
The other authors of the report are: Russell Rumbaugh, a senior associate and director of the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense Program at Stimson; and Matthew Leatherman, a research analyst. The report is titled “Managing the Military More Efficiently: potential Savings Separate from Strategy.”
The report states: “Before cuts are made to military readiness, force structure, or needed weapons, some of the changes like those in this report should be implemented. If the United States is to have the best defense possible, it must spend its defense dollars in the most effective and efficient ways possible.”
The recommendations compiled in the report are organized into three areas: personnel compensation, manpower utilization and procurement practices.
Many studies have found that the Pentagon could better provide service members with the care and compensation they deserve by adopting better management practices. Options for better-managed compensation include:
- Adjusting the formulas for cash compensation growth.
- Pegging pay to specialization in high-demand areas.
- Transferring non-cash compensation into cash compensation.
- Curtailing the pool of health care beneficiaries.
- Increasing health care fees and cost-sharing.
- Modernizing military retirement.
Examples of better manpower utilization taken from the recommendations compiled in the report include:
- Streamlining duplication and redundancy.
- Reducing the number of personnel providing overhead support.
- Using members of the military to perform inherently military functions.
- Trimming civilian manpower and contractor support.
- Better balancing between the active and reserve components.
Recommendations to improve Defense Department procurement include changing the ways that:
- Contracts are constructed.
- The acquisition workforce is managed.
- Best practices are chosen.
- Requirements are generated.