On Future Reductions in Defense Spending
By Senator Lindsey Graham
We have built the finest military in the history of the world, and a strong national defense is the number one priority of the federal government. I realize our current budget situation demands that everything, including defense, be on the table for some level of spending reductions.
Secretary Panetta has warned that an additional $600 billion cut to defense, coming on top of the $400 billion discussed today, would destroy our defenses. After ten years and more than $1 trillion in total defense cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in history.
The Super Committee’s failure should not be an excuse to destroy our national defense and I hope President Obama understands the real, negative consequences to our national security by cutting more than $1 trillion out of defense over the next decade. He only needs to listen to his Secretary of Defense and our military leadership who have warned in the most candid fashion, what a reduction of this size would do to our nation.
Areas to Explore for Future Defense Savings:
Weapons procurement reform: Cost-plus contracts should be scuttled when it comes to major weapons systems. It’s a system only the government would love — the longer it takes, the more it costs, the more the contractor makes. This unsustainable system isn’t fair to the taxpayers and demands congressional reform.
Personnel cost reform: The single largest military expense is not tanks and planes and other equipment, but personnel, accounting for 45 percent of the base defense budget. The current rate of growth is clearly unsustainable and — if not addressed — will pit the needs of retirees against our strategic interests and the needs of the active duty force.
Contract force reform: Since the Sept. 11 attacks, there’s been an explosion in the number and cost of the contract force. Many times these civilian contractors will perform jobs similar to those of active-duty soldiers, but at three times their pay. Today, there are more than 500,000 civilian contractors working in the Defense Department’s service sector alone. We need to take a close look at this and put ideas on the table about how we can constrain and roll back the growth of civilian employees, particularly the contract force.