Experts: Even with cuts, major weapon programs could avoid guillotine

 The Pentagon already is implementing a $350 billion, 10-year cut that is says will equate to a real-world reduction of $489 billion or more. And if lawmakers fail to strike a $1.2 trillion debt-reduction deal this month, the Defense Department and other security agencies will have to cut $600 billion more.

Pentagon and military service leaders, and their congressional allies, have spent much of the fall and early winter months saying their big-ticket programs must be kept alive.

They may get their wish, some analysts say.

David Berteau of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Friday during a forum that hardware programs will take a hit.

Gordon Adams of the Stimson Center said procurement accounts “always carry a heavy burden” during a decrease in military budgets.

Adams said the military’s biggest programs likely will be trimmed, meaning fewer models purchased, and their schedules stretched out.

Smaller programs make up about 60 percent of the Pentagon’s procurement budget, and “that’s the place to look,” Adams said.

That’s largely because thinks like tanks, ammunition and front-end loaders have no constituencies in Congress, Adams said.