Lawrence Korb, you are my hero.
An aerial view of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Virginia. The United States currently fields 11 aircraft carriers, while no other country has even one of comparable size and power. The Pentagon could cancel procurement of the CVN-80 aircraft carrier and retire two existing carrier battle groups and associated air wings, saving $7.74 billion.
Defense spending skyrocketed 70 percent under the Bush administration, and President Barack Obama inherited a defense budget at highs not seen since the end of World War II. There is much room for savings with military spending far out of step with the threats facing our country.
As the Obama administration and Congress try to agree on a deal to raise the debt limit, they should keep in mind that they can cut $150 billion in defense spending annually and still keep our military budget at the Reagan administration’s peak Cold War levels. Bringing the defense budget down to the levels instated by Presidents Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton would require reductions of $250 billion to $300 billion annually.
Here are our recommendations on how to save $400 billion through 2015 without harming U.S. national security:
Redirect DOD’s planned efficiency savings to reduce the baseline defense budget ($133 billion through 2015)
Roll back post-September 11 efforts to grow the ground forces and reduce the number of civilian DOD personnel concomitant with the reduction in military end strength ($39.16 billion through 2015)
Reduce active-duty troops in Europe and Asia by one-third ($42.5 billion through 2015)
Cancel the V-22 Osprey program ($9.15 billion through 2015)
Reform military health care ($42 billion through 2015)
Limit procurement of the Virginia-class submarine and DDG-51 destroyer to one per year; limit procurement of the littoral combat ship to two vessels per year ($20.04 billion through 2015)
Cut procurement of the Navy and Marine F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants ($16.43 billion through 2015)
Institute an across-the-board reduction in research, development, test, and evaluation funding ($40 billion though 2015)
Reform the military pay system as the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation recommends ($13.75 billion through 2015)
Cancel procurement of the CVN-80 aircraft carrier and retire two existing carrier battle groups and associated air wings ($7.74 billion)
Cut the U.S. nuclear arsenal to 311 operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons ($33.72 billion)
According to analysts at the Air War College and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, the United States could maintain effective deterrent capabilities with only 311 strategic nuclear weapons—approximately an 84 percent reduction in current levels. Phasing in these cuts—as well as some reductions in the United States’ tactical stockpile—could save about $11.39 billion per year beginning in 2015.
Additionally, cancelling select costly and technologically challenged missile defense programs administered by the Missile Defense Agency and the armed services could reduce spending by another $1.31 billion per year.
Read more at www.americanprogress.org
Requesting fiscally responsible defense budgets has historically been a bipartisan effort. As the United States winds down its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama administration has an opportunity to restore defense spending to more sustainable levels. In a forthcoming report, the Center for American Progress will provide an in-depth analysis of defense spending decisions under Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton in order to inform Congress and the Obama administration’s defense and deficit decisions.