Panetta Offers Peek into FY 2013 Budget Request
Pentagon officials Thursday outlined an array of changes to the military’s force structure, weapons systems and equipment, overhead, and personnel and retiree costs needed to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from the budget through 2021.
The military will shrink in a number of ways under the fiscal 2013 budget request. The size of the Army would fall from 562,000 to 490,000 soldiers over the next five years, while the Marine Corps would decline from 202,000 to 182,000 Marines over the same period. The budget also would eliminate two of the Army’s four brigade combat teams based in Europe.
The budget calls for significant reductions in the airlift fleet, including retiring 27 C-5As and 65 of the oldest C-130s, and divesting 38 C-27s, according to the 15-page budget priorities document DOD released.
The Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers and 10 carrier air wings, however, would be maintained.
Only marginal reductions to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, with no reductions in the Marine Corps Reserve, are proposed, reported American Forces Press Service. The Air Force would make “balanced reductions” in the Air Guard consistent with changes in the active component and Air Force Reserve.
The budget also seeks to build on the progress achieved under previous Defense Secretary Robert Gates to streamline the department by trimming excess overhead, eliminating waste and improving business practices.
“We’ve identified about $60 billion in savings over five years on top of the substantial efficiency efforts that are already under way,” Secretary Leon Panetta stated.
The proposed budget includes modest changes to military pay and benefits, including smaller pay raises for troops and increased health insurance fees for retirees, reported the New York Times.
The changes are intended to cut total DOD spending by $259 billion from FY 2013 to 2017 and $487 billion through 2021. The FY 2013 budget request will ask Congress for $525 billion in its base budget, a $6 billion decline from the current year’s spending.
“Make no mistake: the savings that we are proposing will impact on all 50 states and many districts, congressional districts, across America. This will be a test, a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or about action,” Panetta stated.