Whether by sequestration or some other mechanism, defense spending is headed down. If we make cuts wisely, we will still have the best trained and best equipped force in the world. If we don’t, we will squander a decade of investment and become more vulnerable. Having cancelled and delayed weapons programs continuously for the last five years, it is time to look for savings in people costs (as the Obama Administration argues). However, trying to get Congress to cut military pay and benefits is a pointless exercise doomed to failure. The smart way to cut the cost of military personnel is to eliminate warfighters from so-called commercial activities that could be done more cheaply by civilians (civil servants or contractors). There are hundreds of thousands of uniform personnel serving in such positions, and their compensation represents over a tenth of the Pentagon’s base budget. I have written a commentary for AOL Defense here.
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