The Budget Axe Drops

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on Thursday outlined the programmatic changes resulting from the Obama Administration’s new strategic defense guidance and the planned reduction of some $487 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next 10 years. Among them, the Air Force will:

  • Eliminate six of its 60 tactical air squadrons, as well as one training squadron.
  • Terminate the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft program.
  • Divest the fleet of 38 C-27Js; support ground forces with C-130s instead.
  • Retire 27 C-5A aircraft, leaving a strategic airlift fleet of 52 C-5Ms and 222 C-17s.
  • Phase out 65 of the oldest C-130s, resulting in a fleet of 318 C-130s.
  • Make balanced reductions in the Air National Guard, consistent with reductions in the active duty Air Force and Air Force Reserve.
  • At the same time, the Air Force will:

  • Fund its next-generation bomber and sustain the current bomber fleet.
  • Move ahead with the KC-46A tanker.
  • Sustain 65 MQ-1/9 remotely piloted aircraft combat air patrols, with a surge capacity of 85. As part of this, MQ-1s will remain in service longer; MQ-9 procurement will slow.
  • Panetta said the Air Force will remain one “that dominates air and space and provides rapid mobility, global strike, and persistent [intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance].” (Pentagon budget priorities document and budget fact sheet) (Panetta-Dempseytranscript) (Carter-Winnefeld transcript)
    Beyond the Air Force: In addition to sweeping cuts affecting the Air Force, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on Thursday outlined plans to:

  • Reduce the size of the Army to 490,000, a cut of some 80,000 from the post-9/11 peak.
  • Trim the Marine Corps’ end strength to 182,000 from a peak of 202,000.
  • Slow F-35 procurement to complete more testing and allow for developmental changes before buying jets in significant quantities. DOD remains committed to all three F-35 variants.
  • Delay by two years development of the Navy’s future ballistic missile submarine.
  • Develop a submarine-based conventional prompt global strike option.
  • Make “marginal” reductions in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, but no reductions in the Marine Corps Reserve.
  • Recommend increases in health care fees, co-pays, and deductibles for military retirees.
  • The President will also propose that Congress authorize a new round of BRAC, said Panetta. (Pentagon budget priorities document and budget fact sheet) (Panetta-Dempsey transcript) (Carter-Winnefeld transcript)
    The Tough Calls: The Pentagon will request $525 billion in its base budget for Fiscal 2013, along with an additional $88.4 billion to cover overseas contingency operations like the war in Afghanistan, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday. This compares to the enacted totals of $531 billion and $115 billion, respectively, for Fiscal 2012, he noted. The reductions are a first step in cutting Pentagon spending by $259 billion over the next five years and by $487 billion over the next 10 years, as the 2011 Budget Control Act mandates. “I believe we have developed a complete package, aligned to achieve our strategic aims,” said Panetta of the budget plan, which the Obama Administration’s new defense strategy guided in preparation. Assembling the budget, with the programmatic cutbacks it reflects (see above), was a difficult undertaking, but an “important opportunity to shape the force we need for the future,” said Panetta. “The merits of our choices should be viewed in the context of an evolving security environment and a longer term plan for the joint force,” noted Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who briefed reporters with Panetta. (Pentagon budget priorities document and budget fact sheet) (Panetta-Dempsey transcript) (Carter-Winnefeld transcript)

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