One Deficit Reduction Plan Would Make a Large Dent in DOD Budget

The Defense Department would absorb $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade under the deficit reduction plan introduced last week by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Coburn’s 614-page plan — which would trim the federal deficit by $9 trillion and balance the budget — has not gained traction among the leadership of either party, but it provides a useful benchmark for measuring prospective defense cuts.

The senator believes that $34 billion could be saved over the next decade by standardizing spending on base support across the services and reducing spending on facilities maintenance as a result of BRAC. There is a 50 percent difference in base support costs per service member from the Army to the Air Force, according to Coburn’s report, “Back in Black.” The department’s facility space dropped by 20 percent as a result of BRAC, but spending on maintenance rose by almost 20 percent, the report says.

The plan also would focus on eliminating spending on non-core functions of the Pentagon by:

  • Consolidating DOD-administered grocery and retail stores ($9.1 billion in savings over 10 years) — primarily by eliminating the federal subsidy for commissaries; and
  • Closing DOD elementary schools ($10 billion) — the department operates 64 schools on 16 installations in the U.S.

Several of the recommendations contained in the senator’s report would cut the end strength of the Armed Forces:

  • Reverse the Grow the Army initiative ($92.5 billion in savings over 10 years) — would return the Army to 482,400 soldiers from the current strength of 547,400 soldiers; and
  • Reduce military personnel in Europe and Asia by one-third ($69.5 billion) — would cancel the Guam realignment and, instead, transfer 8,600 Marines to the continental U.S.

Read about other suggested cuts in the Washington Post.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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