Yesterday Gates Wanted $100B in Cuts. Today He Needs $120B-plus in Cuts

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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From Defense News:

“Due to the recent decision of the DoD actuaries raising accruals to keep pace with increasing retirement costs of military personnel, the Defense Department will need to find $20 billion more in savings” to achieve the Pentagon’s cost-cutting objectives, said Michael Bayer, chairman of the Defense Business Board (DBB).

Translation: the $100 billion in cuts Secretary Gates wanted now needs to grow — a lot — because military retirees are living longer and more of the DoD budget needs to be sequestered to pay them.

So what programs are out there to get cut?

“The real issue is people,” Bayer said bluntly. “People is where the problem is.”

He noted that the Air Force recently pared its end strength by 7 percent, “but its total personnel bill increased by 16 percent.”

Health care, questionable combat pay policies and bloated military staffs are also parts of the problem, Bayer said.

How bloated are the bloated staffs?

All combatant command military staffs are composed of about 67,600 troops today, a figure expected to surpass 76,700 by 2015. In contrast, about 16,000 civilians compose CoCom staffs today, growing to 17,500 in 2015.

Bayer said the department could save tens of billions of dollars by moving civilians into non-inherently military jobs currently held by military personnel.

The assumption is the staffs are bloated and the growth in numbers is presented as evidence of that hypothesis.  However, who really knows if staff growth correlates with staff bloat?  After all, it is entirely possible the staffs are more than fully engaged right now and that the growth is well justified.  The issue instead is  fully engaged doing what?

And tens of billions? Please.  This is life and you pretty much get what you pay for.  If those civilians can get up to speed in their jobs like (and get paid like) Taco Bell workers, perhaps.  But that isn’t realistic in any way.

The real savings will come from DoD divesting itself from the least value added national security work and the people who do that work.  This means the Services will need to quit doing some things they’ve always done and accept more national security risk as a consequence of those decisions.

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