Out today, a new report by Stimson that recommends 27 things that Congress could do to the defense budget to shave off $50 billion and help “advance America’s defense strategy.” The new strategy is called “Strategic Agility” and it’s being posed as an alternative to sequestration. The report is billed as a consensus report from Stimson’s 17-member Defense Advisory Committee, which includes James Cartwright, former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gary Roughhead, former Navy CNO, Norty Schwartz, the former Air Force Chief of Staff, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former State official who now heads the New America Foundation. The report was due out earlier this morning.
How do you get to $50 billion big ones? Do Stimson’s math: $22.4 billion in “management reforms,” including cuts to excess military and civilian personnel in headquarters and defense agencies, reduce centralized training, reform military retirement and health benefits and eliminate funding for unnecessary commissaries and exchanges. See, it’s that simple! Here’s more: Save another $21.4 billion in changes to force structure, Stimson’s report says: “These would maintain robust space, air, naval and special operations forces, and expand investment in cyber capabilities, but reduce active forces best suited for protracted wars and cut back nuclear forces. The restructuring would take advantage of the cost-effective strategic depth provided by the National Guard and Reserve,” according to a treatment of the report prepared by Stimson. And another $5.7 billion in “reduced modernization costs.” This set of cuts would maintain the long-range strike bomber and increase the number of AEGIS destroyers for theater missile defenses, according to Stimson. “The adjustments would freeze missile defenses in the United States and purchases of new ground vehicles. The cuts would also slow purchases of F-35 fighter jets and ballistic missile submarines, cut back tactical nuclear weapons, and shift development resources toward advanced technologies.”
What else? As part of the $50 billion savings plan, Stimson recommends reducing civilian employees, for $4.7 billion; reforming military retirement for $1.5 billion; reforming health benefits, for $4.7 billion; stopping funding of commissaries and Post exchanges in the U.S., for $1.2 billion; and “extricating” uniformed personnel from non-military tasks – $2.7 billion.
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