Defense cuts that conservatives and the troops can live with

In a paper released in January 2011, conservative defense experts Mackenzie Eaglen and Julia Pollack compiled a list of proposals to save the Defense Department more than $70 billion without crippling key capabilities. The paper, “How to Save Money, Reform Processes, and Increase Efficiency in the Defense Department,” is available at The Heritage Foundation. Here are some excerpted ideas.

Reduce the number of Defense Department civilian positions to pre-9/11 levels

The OSD civilian workforce has expanded unchecked in recent years, growing by over 10 percent just since 2009 to more 750,000 strong. Chopping 600 positions and expanding on a number of cuts to the civilian force recommended by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates would save the department $2.5 billion a year.

Increase use of multi-year procurement contracts

This longer-term system allows contractors to invest in the project up-front and make competitive deals with subcontractors, resulting in more efficient production and less paperwork. With a switch to MYP contracts, DoD could save an estimated seven percent of the procurement budget, or $9.6 billion per year.

Reduce spending on base support and facilities maintenance

Readjusting spending to account for base closures, standardizing upkeep costs and building efficiency into the system could yield significant returns for DoD, members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform found in 2010. Combined spending cuts and efficiency measures could save DoD a total of $2.4 billion in FY 2015.

Consolidating DoD retail activities

Eliminating a $1.3 billion yearly expenditure by privatizing and consolidating the Defense Department commissary system would make the grocery bills of military families slightly higher, but a Congressional Budget Office study showed the military could give families a generous  grocery allowance and still see significant annual savings.

Fund corrosion prevention and control activities

Eaglen and Pollack cite a 2009 Pentagon report showing that corrosion on equipment costs the military more than $22 billion annually. Investing extra to prevent and control corrosion and rust would cost more up-front, but save money on replacing and restoring equipment. Estimated savings: $1.4 billion per year.

Cuts that troops wouldn’t mind

Human Events asked several active-duty troops and military veterans if there were any items that they would like to see cut from the Defense budget. Here are a few of their (tongue-in-cheek) answers.

Painful PowerPoint

Even general officers have made public critique of the military’s penchant for endless and confusing slide presentations. The commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. James Mattis (never one to mince words) told a military audience in 2010 that “PowerPoint makes us stupid.”

Unpalatable Meals, Ready-to-Eat

Especially bad is the cheese-and-vegetable omelet, sources say.

Said a recently separated Marine Corps veteran: “It is just a giant booger.”

Pedantic safety briefs

Before leave or liberty, enlisted troops know to expect: a barrage of advice on subjects ranging from drinking and driving to carrying enough cash on road trips.

While well-intended, the briefs were built on the assumption that service members have no common sense or intuition, troops said.

One military source summed up the briefs in a few words: “Repetitive, ridiculous, and boring.”