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Gates Outlines Pentagon Spending Revisions

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday described in detail plans to cut and reallocate $150 billion in Pentagon spending over the next half-decade, setting aside funds for priorities including development of a next-generation strategic bomber (see GSN, Nov. 5, 2010).

The Defense Department budget updates would involve cutting back on contractor personnel, "redundant" intelligence offices, unneeded reports and assessments and the number of high-level officers and civilian officials, according to a Pentagon press release. The department would also consolidate information technology efforts, downgrade certain commands outside the United States and bump up insurance premiums for former military personnel (U.S. Defense Department release, Jan. 6).

The plan would zero funds for the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, Politico reported. In addition, the department is expected to reorganize its $380 billion F-35 Lightning 2 fighter jet program and push the effort back for two years (Philip Ewing, Politico, Jan. 6).

The planned changes and a federal freeze on all nonmilitary salaries would together eliminate $54 billion in spending over the next five years, the Pentagon said (U.S. Defense Department).

The alterations are expected to gradually cut overall U.S. defense spending by roughly $78 billion, Politico reported. The Pentagon would receive a only modest budget increase this year under the plan, and its budget would plateau in fiscal 2015.

The department would reallocate a significant portion of the cost savings to other defense programs (Ewing, Politico).

The Pentagon's planned next-generation bomber “will be designed and developed using proven technologies, an approach that should make it possible to deliver this capability on schedule and in quantity,” Wired magazine quoted Gates as saying. The Pentagon's previous bid to design a new bomber failed over the anticipated high expense of the proposed aircraft (see GSN, April 22, 2009; David Axe, Wired. Jan. 6).

In addition, Gates called for the gradual elimination of roughly 27,000 Army staff and 20,000 Marine Corps staff beginning in fiscal 2015, Politico reported (Ewing, Politico).

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