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O'HANLON: DOUBLE THE CUTS

The $30 billion in proposed budget cuts to the Defense Department already have lobbyists, paper-pushers, and Congresscritters squirming. But, according to the influential Brookings Institution defense analyst Michael O'Hanlon, the savings aren't nearly deep enough. In a Baltimore Sun op-ed today, he calls for shaving twice as much from the Pentagon ledgers.How would he do it? By reallocating forces and by "modernizing what we put on planes, ships and vehicles - electronics, sensors, radios, robotics, computers, munitions - rather than the weapons themselves." For instance:

nlos_c.jpg- Delay the Army's "future combat system" by five years and cut research funding by more than half in the meantime...- Cut U.S. nuclear forces even more quickly and deeply than envisioned by the Moscow Treaty, allowing retirement of some Minuteman missiles and more conversions of Trident subs to conventional missions. In addition, the Pentagon should scale back the cost of missile defense programs to $6 billion a year rather than $10 billion...- The Navy, rather than keeping a permanent presence in certain key areas, will increasingly surge ships to participate in exercises or respond to crises. But it will maintain a presence in places such as the Persian Gulf and Western Pacific, home porting more ships near those areas to do it more affordably.The Navy should increasingly "rotate crews, not ships." With this approach, already used on specialized vessels today, ships can remain overseas 18 to 24 months; crews are rotated in and out by plane, conserving the time that at present is usually wasted in transoceanic travel. As a result, the Navy could get by with 10 carriers and 10 percent to 20 percent fewer surface ships.

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