In 2012 the DOF spent a total of $651 billion, including the cost of fighting in Afghanistan. The white house project budget of 2014 will be $547 billion, but with sequestration triggered that figure will fall bellows $500 billion, a loss of more than 20% in just two years.
The observation that the “growing imbalances in the defense budget” imperial “the health and long-term viability of America’s volunteer military,” and agreed on three important elements of reform: the need to close excess bases, reduce the size of the civilian workforce, and limit the growth in cost of military compensation, particularly heath care.
Back in 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission estimated that the “implementation costs” of its recommendations, the expense of moving people and agencies from old bases to new ones, environmental restoration and the like—would require an additional $21 billion outlay. Last year the GAO reported cost had risen to $35.1 billion, thus reducing the anticipated savings by 72%. In other words the real expense of the US military comes form its size, not its location.
Defense civilian workforce growth since 9-11 is 17% while the active duty military grew by just 3.4%, which meant relying on the National Guard and reserves more.
Retired Marine general, Arnold Punaro adviser to Sen. Sam Nunn said the military is becoming “a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist”. And it’s true that the Pentagon has a real “entitlements” problem, in which health care cost, now about 10% of the defense budget, inexorably eat away funds for training and procurement.
As with civilian entitlements reforms, the best one can hope for is to restrain the rate of growth for the future.
In sum, when the budgetary puts and takes of the “consensus” reform proposals are calculated, the net savings over the next decade—the period covered by the budget act and sequestration—vanish. The small savings to be had from even the most optimistic workforce reductions and compensation cuts probably will be offset by the expense of base closures.
Source—weekly standard, gary Schmitt, Thomas donnelly