Military life is full of things we can’t control -- the latest of which is the defense cut battle on Capitol Hill. The Pentagon has to axe at least $450 billion over the next ten years, and is facing some tough decisions while getting ready to do so. What should get the first look? Super pricey retiree benefits? Military family perks? Weapons systems that may or may not be needed? Military personnel based in Europe?
I’m sure if I was President for a day I could have all of this ironed out pronto. ... or not.
As if just to emphasize how hard this, the New York Times has a fun defense strategy widget that lets you choose from a menu of items to cut. The options range from benefits to weapons to personnel.
You’ll note the absence of a few options you and I might consider no-brainers (for example, reducing the recreation programs or base hourly childcare budget -- both things I love but are not necessary).There are also a few things that seem to make perfect sense based on their description, but really aren’t what they seem (example: combining the commissary and exchange systems, which we’ve talked about in the past).
Like Rebekah Sanderlin over at Operation Marriage, I felt pretty bad about the stuff that I decided to get rid of. And I’m sure my choices reflect my personal bias as an active duty family member. But nonetheless, faced with only the options on this sheet (and my limited knowledge of a lot of the weapon and defense systems), here is my personal defense cuts tally and what it would save over ten years (according to the New York Times):
Raise Tricare drug co-pays $26 billion
Exclude military retirees from Tricare Prime $105 billion
Freeze for 3 years salaries of Pentagon civilian employees $15.5 billion
Cut Pentagon civilian workforce by 20 percent $73 billion
Replace F-35 Joint Strike Fight with F-16s and F/A-18s $48 billion
Reduce Navy Ship Buying $55 billion
Cancel the Air Force’s Next Gen Bomber $38 billion
Reduce military presence in Europe/Asia $69.5 billion
Reduce Defense Department travel costs $14 billion
Standardize spending on base support $20 billion
Audit the Pentagon $25 billion
I beg you, don’t judge me for my choices -- but instead go and make your own. Make sure you click “submit plan” at the end so you can see what others have chosen.
And when you’re done -- come back here and discuss. What should’ve been in the options that wasn’t? Are you surprised by any of the choices other have made?
P.S. My husband just glanced over my shoulder, saw what I chose and said “I hate your choices.” So if you do judge me, you’ll be in good company.