Coburn’s ‘Back in Black’ Plan Would Cut $1 Trillion from DOD Spending

A deficit reduction plan released by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R) would slice $1.0 trillion in Pentagon spending over the next 10 years, affecting installation support, troop levels, civilian personnel and military families.

Many of the 600-page plan’s recommendations echo those made last year by the president’s bipartisan debt commission, upon which Coburn served. Cuts in base support could save $34 billion over the coming decade. One source of savings would come from standardizing support spending across all services. “There is currently a 50 percent difference in base support costs per troop from the Army to the Air Force,” the senator’s plan states. “The Department of Defense has common standards and these should be upheld,” it adds.

The most recent BRAC round would be the other source, providing “ample opportunity for savings” as a result of the military’s smaller inventory of real estate.

Replacing military personnel performing commercial-type activities — including installation support, supply, transportation, and morale, welfare and recreation — with civilians would save $53 billion beginning in fiscal 2013, according to the plan. Total compensation for civilian employees is lower than it is for active-duty military.

Reversing the Grow the Army initiative would save $92 billion by returning the Army’s end strength to pre-2007 levels of active-duty personnel. The Army now is authorized for 547,400 soldiers; this option would lower the number to 482,400 soldiers. Earlier this year, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed trimming Army forces by 27,000 troops starting in 2015.

The plan recommends reducing military personnel stationed at overseas bases in Europe and Asia by one-third and cutting personnel at headquarters overseas as a way to save $69.5 billion. Cancelling the planned realignment of 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam would make “the most strategic sense,” it states.

Reducing the civilian workforce by 5 percent beginning in 2014 would save $22.5 billion.

Several of the plan’s recommendations would roll back spending military families rely on. Closing the department’s system of elementary and secondary schools in the United States would save $10 billion. Consolidating the services’ post exchange systems, which sell retail goods, and eliminating the annual federal subsidy for the Defense Commissary Agency would save $9.1 billion.

The senator is urging the public to vote on his plan’s specific proposals for slashing spending.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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