[Rushtalk] Obama's Destruction of the Military:Defense Panel Recommends BRAC, Benefit Changes

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at keepandbeararms.com
Fri Nov 1 22:01:57 MDT 2013

Defense Panel Recommends BRAC, Benefit Changes

Sep 25, 2013

Military.com| by Bryant Jordan

pentagon av week 428x285A 17-member committee of retired defense leaders
and corporate officials is calling for a new round of base closures as
part of a plan to reduce Pentagon spending by $50 billion annually in
coming years.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, members of the Defense Advisory
Committee said the Defense Department is currently large enough to
reshuffle missions without new construction and probably in a strong
enough position to win political support for Base Realignment and
Closure reviews.

In addition to a new round of BRAC, the committee also recommended
reforming military retirement and health benefits and eliminating
funding for unnecessary commissaries and exchanges. In its report, the
panel suggested management reforms that would mean eliminating excess
military and civilian personnel at headquarters and agency levels.

These BRAC and management changes, the committee contends, would shave
nearly $22.5 billion from the Pentagon's budget each year.

"In the past, we were still large, we were not contracting -- we were
probably growing -- and so it was necessary as we shut down a facility
at 'Location A' to build more things at 'Location B,' " said Philip
Odeen, former chairman of TRW Inc. who has served on various DoD panels
and advisory groups. "This time, with a contracting military and a
contracting support base, we think there is ample space at other
locations [to absorb missions from other facilities], so a new larger
investment in new building construction would not be needed."

He also envisions a Congress willing to go along with another BRAC
round, notwithstanding the political pressure applied whenever a state
stands to lose a military base or mission.

The politics "are difficult," he said, "but I think if you have a
program done carefully, if you have the Joint Chiefs, the military
leadership, behind it, I think there is a good chance that Congress will
agree that these savings must be made if we're going to preserve our
investment programs, and our modernization and [the] readiness of our

The recommendations come in the face of nearly unanimous opposition in
Congress to another BRAC round. Lawmakers rejected proposals from the
top levels of Pentagon leadership who proposed restarting the process in
line with sequestration cuts and force reductions.

A year ago, the same committee issued a report that expressed confidence
that cuts required in the defense arena under the Budget Control Act
would be done "rationally," and that Congress would not let
indiscriminate cuts caused by sequester to occur.

"We were wrong," the committee acknowledged in its report. "Not only has
sequester occurred in fiscal year 2013, but with no fiscal deal in sight
it could occur again in fiscal year 2014 and subsequent years -- unless
the Congress and the administration accept the reality of lower
statutory budget levels."

The Budget Control Act requires the Pentagon to trim spending by nearly
$500 billion over the next 10 years. The sequester cuts will mean
another $500 billion over that period.

In doing its research, the committee looked at, among other things, what
the private sector did when the bottom fell out of the economy with the
Wall Street collapse in 2008. Odeen said overhead was among the first
the first things to go.

"Before they cut into muscle; before they cut into operations, cut back
in sales and marketing, they went into overhead accounts," he said.
"This meant they cut loose people, costs, layers and facilities that
they did not absolutely need, allowing them to spare the assets and
people necessary for the company's success."

The panel estimated in its report that nearly $21.5 billion could be
saved by changes to force structure to include cutting active forces
necessary for protracted wars and nuclear forces. In doing so, the panel
also emphasized the need to take advantage of the cost-effectiveness of
the Guard and Reserve.

Finally, nearly $6 billion could be saved annually by reducing
modernization costs in some areas, including slowing purchases of F-35s
and ballistic missile submarines. The committee backs maintaining the
long-range strike bomber program and increased acquisition of AEGIS
destroyers for theater missile defenses.

Retired Gen. B.B. Bell, a committee member, said the U.S. needs to adopt
a strategy based on defending vital U.S. interests.

But the county needs to resist getting involved in protracted ground
wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and against insurgencies that do not
directly impact vital U.S. interests or security, said Bell, former
commander of U.S. Army, Europe and U.S. Forces, Korea.

"One could argue fairly persuasively that many if not all the
contingency operations we have been involved in since the end of World
War II have been of this nature," Bell said. "And not only have they
bled our young men and women, but they have impacted extraordinarily
negatively our [treasury], and with dubious results, in my view."

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