Nonpartisan my ass!
By Patricia Kime
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has proposed six ways to reduce defense spending ranging from deep cuts to the military services to controversial reductions in pay and benefits.
In a presentation Tuesday before a group of retired and current government personnel and federal budget experts, CBO senior analyst Carla Tighe Murray delivered options for defense savings that would total between $10 billion and $495 billion through 2023.
The largest savings would draw from what would be the most untenable option for the Defense Department: further cuts to the size of each military service. According to Murray, reductions could yield $495 billion in savings over 10 years, but they would mean eliminating 10 Army brigade combat teams, 34 major Navy ships, two Marine Corps regiments and 170 Air Force fighters.
Other options proposed by the CBO would have less impact on readiness but likely would generate ire from military advocacy groups and affected constituencies if they were formally pitched, since most would affect active-duty pay and alter benefits for retirees.
■Capping military pay raises. The CBO would reduce the size of annual military pay raises to save money, as was done this year by capping the basic pay raise at 1 percent instead of the 1.8 percent required under a federal pay formula. The CBO estimates this would save $24.6 billion in savings through 2023, but Murray also added that recruiting and retention might be compromised.
■Replace military personnel with civilians. This option, which could save $19.4 billion over 10 years, could add stability to the Defense Department because civilians would not have to transfer every few years, but could reduce the number of trained military personnel available for contingencies.
■Increase Tricare fees for working-age retirees or make this group ineligible for Tricare Prime. These options could save $19.7 billion and $71 billion, respectively, over 10 years. DoD has asked Congress a number of times to allow enrollment fee, deductible and co-payment increases for retirees under age 65 and is likely to continue to press for additional contributions from this group.
■Establish an enrollment fee for Tricare for Life. This option would save $30.7 billion through 2023. Murray said it could encourage retirees to use other employer-sponsored health care and be more disciplined in obtaining medical services but added that implementation could hinder retention or cause some people to delay getting medical treatment.
Finally, according to the CBO, the Pentagon could save money by canceling some programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter. Replacing the program with F-16s and F/A-18s could save $37.1 billion through 2023.
Whether any of these proposals make it into the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal remains to be seen. The spending plan is unlikely to be unveiled until late February at the earliest, according to budget experts.
If lawmakers consider CBO’s pay and benefits proposals, they likely will face an imbroglio similar to the one occurring now over reductions to military retirement pay increases that will start in 2015.
Military advocacy groups say that by not exempting currently serving personnel and retirees from the reductions, Congress has “broken faith” with professional military members who served during two extensive wars.
But some troops say the proposals don’t phase them. Navy Yeoman First Class Vernon Parker said in an email Wednesday he’s surprised that annual military pay raises have not been curtailed.
“As a 13-plus-year active duty sailor, I would and could support no annual pay raise for a few years,” Parker said. “I plan and execute my budget so not to live paycheck to paycheck.”
The CBO proposals presented by Murray were first published last November.
Phi Beta Iota: CBO is not an independent organization. Its assumptions and the outcomes of its products are determined by Congressional (which is to say, partisan) mandate. CRS has similar issues, and the problems of both can be understood by reading the reflections of a retiring director of CRS, Congressional Research Service (Not). DoD today is in violation of every sensible precept known to man — it has no grasp of the ten high level threats to humanity; it has no strategy rooted in an honest appraisal of the threats as a whole; it has no ethical approach to force structure, instead going with budget share for four services themselves lacking intelligence with integrity; it has no inspector general; no operational test & evaluation; and no counterintelligence to flush out the traitors that sacrifice humans to pork every time. DIA could be making a differnece by publishing coherent compelling decision support that can be shared with Congress, the media, and the public. DIA could also be using its strategic counterintelligence to put the fear of Christ Almighty into flag officers and senior executives. It’s time we reinstated integrity as the core value of our national “security” community.
MARCUS AURELIUS: In fairness to the senior ranks — the temptations of embedded contractors screwing us all over all the time aside — they are overwhelmed by volume and velocity of information. No one has ever attempted to deal with the totality of all information in all forms as a holistic intelligence (sense-making and decision-support).
Phi Beta Iota: Brother Marcus makes a hugely important point. Integrity requires intelligence as much as intelligence requires integrity. Up to this point, no intelligence leader has been willing or able to step up to the full challenge. This may be the most important positive point made on this web site to date. We have it in our power to empower.
2013 Robert Steele Reflections on NATO 4.0 — Key Challenges AND Solutions [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]
2013 Robert Steele Reflections on Alternative Command & Control (AltC2) — Five Questions and a Game Plan 1.1 [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]
2013 Robert Steele — Alternative Command & Control and Four Transformation Forcing Concepts [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]
2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Concepts & Doctrine? Implications for Human & Open Source Intelligence [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]
2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Concepts & Doctrine? Implications for Human & Open Source Intelligence 2.0 [written for NATO ACT Innovation Hub]