The Pentagon is considering recommending that funding for military grocery stores drop by $1 billion, or 71 percent, over three years as part of its fiscal 2015 budget request, reported Military.com.
A cut of that magnitude likely would lead to the widespread closure of commissaries, with stateside stores bearing the brunt of the impact. The recommendation under discussion would reduce the Defense Commissary Agency’s (DeCA) current budget from $1.4 billion to $400 million by FY 2017. The agency operates 247 stores worldwide.
“If DeCA’s budget is cut to such a magnitude, it would ultimately require DeCA to close stores or change the way it delivers the commissary benefit,” a source told Military.com.
Beyond closing stateside stores, the agency could change the way food is shipped to commissaries overseas. DOD officials would neither confirm nor deny that significant commissary cuts are under discussion as it finalizes its budget submission.
“As the Department of Defense faces an increasingly constrained budget environment, we are reviewing all programs to identify cost-cutting and money-saving opportunities,” said Joy Clabaugh, a spokesman for the personnel and readiness office of the assistant secretary of defense. “We have a process in place to finalize and announce budget decisions, and right now, we are assessing all options,” she said.
The possibility that DOD’s FY 2015 budget request would decimate commissary spending comes two months after it was revealed that top defense officials asked DeCA for a plan to close all domestic military grocery stores.
Commissaries are a key benefit for service members, saving a family of four an annual average of almost $4,500 as a result of discounted prices approaching 30 percent.