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Think-tank report targets benefits, force structure to hold down spending

Sep. 24, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Many Defense Department employees would face furloughs if the government shuts down Sept. 30, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo.
Many Defense Department employees would face furloughs if the government shuts down Sept. 30, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo. (Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway / Air Force)
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A 27-point plan for the Defense Department to live within 2011 budget caps was unveiled Tuesday by a national security think tank.

The Stimson Center plan, the result of recommendations from a group of prominent advisers including several retired four-star flag and general officers, shaves about $21 billion from force structure, $22 billion from management reforms and $6 billion from weapons modernization. It achieves about $50 billion in savings, slightly more than the $47.7 billion reduction needed to stay within the 2015 spending limit cap set for the Defense Department set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The 2011 caps allow for $476.1 billion of spending on defense in 2015, down from the $527.5 billion budget for fiscal 2013.

Management reforms include some dramatic changes in benefits with immediate savings in 2015. These include $5 billion in added out-of-pocket expenses in retiree health care in 2015, $2 billion in reductions in retired pay and $1billion in savings from cutting all taxpayer support for commissaries and exchanges.

Also included in management reform is a recommendation for consolidating infrastructure, reducing both federal civilian and contract employees, reducing headquarters staffs and defense agencies, and cutting back on some types of training.

The biggest savings recommended in weapons programs is slowing the purchase of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which cuts $4 billion in 2015.

Also recommended is canceling both the Army ground combat vehicle and joint light tactical vehicle, saving $1 billion.

The recommendations come from an advisory committee that includes two former vice chairmen of the joint chiefs, a former chief of naval operations and two retired Army four-star generals.

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