Defense budget exercise cut soldiers, carriers and fighters

Personnel, ships and fighter jets were all on the chopping block in the results of a defense budget cutting exercise, unveiled on Wednesday by teams from four think-tanks.

Under constrained defense budget scenarios, the four teams all decided to cut non-stealthy fighters, shrink the number of the Army’s active duty and reserve infantry brigade combat teams, cut the number of active duty soldiers, reduce carriers and destroyers, downsize the number of civilians, and spend more money on space, cyber, and communications. 

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Team participants made clear that these were not “recommendations,” but decisions they would choose if forced to under two different budget scenarios — one under congressionally-imposed budget caps known as sequestration, and the other under “half-sequestration.”

The exercise was conducted as an “alternative Quadrennial Defense Review,” a quadrennial Pentagon review of defense strategy and priorities that sets a course for the future. 

The four teams were from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, and the American Enterprise Institute. 

“No matter what happens, there’s going to be a lot less money,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, who spoke at the beginning of the event unveiling their results. 

“The good news is that there’s a lot of money to be saved within the Department of Defense without hurting anything,” he said. 

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), who also spoke at the event, said the Pentagon also needed to reform military pay and compensation, but that he favored a grandfathered approach. 

No changes should be made until a Pentagon commission makes recommendations in Feb. 2015, he added. 

For more on the exercise, click HERE