New Report Urges Pentagon Role in Deficit Reduction

For Immediate Release

Project on Defense Alternatives
Contact: 

Charles Knight: (781) 879-0190;
(617) 547-4474;cknight@comw.org

 or Carl Conetta cconetta@comw.org

New Report Urges Pentagon Role in Deficit Reduction

Cites Potential Savings of Nearly $1 Trillion Over Ten Years

WASHINGTON - A new report identifies $960 billion in Pentagon
budget savings that can be generated over the next ten years from
realistic reductions in defense spending. The report was produced by
the Sustainable Defense Task Force, a group convened in response to a
request from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to explore options for reducing
the defense budget’s contribution to the federal deficit without
compromising the essential security of the United States.

The
report comes at a time when the federal deficit is drawing increasing
attention from policymakers in Washington. President Obama has
appointed a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to
look at long-term budgetary trends; the administration’s new National
Security Strategy has argued that we need to “grow our economy and
reduce our deficit” if we are to ensure continued U.S. strength and
influence abroad; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has spoken of
eliminating unnecessary weapons systems and reducing overhead costs at
the Pentagon; and key Congressional leaders are speaking of a bottom-up
review of defense spending to look for potential cuts.

“At a
time of growing concern over federal deficits, all elements of the
budget must be subjected to careful scrutiny. The Pentagon should be no
exception,” said Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives,
an author of the report.

In making the case for substantial
reductions, the report notes that federal discretionary spending – the
portion of the budget other than entitlement programs like Social
Security and Medicare – has nearly doubled since 2001. Over one-third
of that increase is accounted for by the base Pentagon budget, which
excludes the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“With
our nation staring down the barrel of record deficits, the Pentagon
budget’s explosive growth is unsustainable,” said task force member
Laura Peterson of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “There’s plenty of fat to
cut from the military budget without compromising our safety. In fact,
military and political leaders agree that economic stability is vital
to our national security.”

Major options for reductions in Pentagon spending cited in the report include the following:


Over $113 billion in savings by reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to
1,050 total warheads deployed on 450 land-based missiles and seven
Ohio-class submarines;

• Over $200 billion in savings by
reducing U.S. routine military presence in Europe and Asia to 100,000
while reducing total uniformed military personnel to 1.3 million;


Over $138 billion in savings by replacing costly and unworkable weapons
systems with more practical, affordable alternatives. Suggested cuts
would include the F-35 combat aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, and the
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

• Over $60 billion in savings by reforming military health care; and

• Over $100 billion in savings by cutting unnecessary command, support and infrastructure funding.

The
report also includes a set of possible reductions based on a strategy
of restraint that would emphasize the ability to bring force from the
sea to defeat and deter enemies rather than putting large numbers of
troops ashore in extended operations. The savings from this approach
would total $1.1 trillion.

“Substantially reducing military
spending requires a less ambitious military strategy,” said Christopher
Preble of the CATO Institute. “We spend too much because we have been
unwilling to make hard choices that focus Pentagon spending on the
missions that really matter.”

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Download Report: Debt, Deficits, and Defense - A Way Forward.

The Sustainable Defense Task Force

- Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives
- Benjamin Friedman, Cato Institute
- William D. Hartung, New America Foundation
- Christopher Hellman, National Priorities Project
- Heather Hurlburt, National Security Network
- Charles Knight, Project on Defense Alternatives
- Lawrence J. Korb, Center for American Progress
- Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action
- Laicie Olson, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- Miriam Pemberton, Institute for Policy Studies
- Laura Peterson, Taxpayers for Common Sense
- Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College
- Christopher Preble, Cato Institute
- Winslow Wheeler, Center for Defense Information.

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