Pentagon budget reflects leaner force

Feb. 13, 2012 at 3:48 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Military personnel would shrink by 5.5 percent while pay and benefits would be maintained under the U.S. Defense Department budget proposal, officials said.

The fiscal year 2013 proposal calls for a $525.4 billion base budget, down $5.2 billion from the current year, and $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, down $26.6 billion, the Pentagon said Monday in a release.

The budget proposal follows the strategy guidance President Obama outlined in January that would transition the military into a smaller, flexible, more modern force that responds to challenges and maintains global superiority while helping to reduce the national deficit, Pentagon officials said.

To that end, the budget calls for reductions in service branches over a five-year period as follows:

-- The Army would eliminate at least eight brigade combat teams; a 0.9 percent reduction next year to 1,115,300, going to a 6.8 percent reduction in 2017.

-- The Navy would eliminate seven cruisers and two dock landing ships; a 1.7 percent reduction next year to 385,000, going to a 3.9 percent reduction in 2017.

-- The Marine Corps would eliminate one infantry regiment headquarters, five infantry battalions, one artillery battalion, four tactical air squadrons and one combat logistics battalion; a 2 percent reduction next year to 236,900, going to an 8.3 percent reduction in 2017.

-- The Air Force would eliminate six combat coded fighter squadrons and one non-combat coded fighter squadron, and 303 aircraft, including 123 combat aircraft, 150 mobility and tanker aircraft and 30 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; a 1.9 percent reduction next year, going to a 2.3 percent reduction in 2017.

The Defense Department civilian work force will be reduced by 1 percent in 2013 and will receive a 0.5 percent pay raise following a two-year pay freeze.

The budget request includes a 1.7 percent military pay raise, a 4.2 percent average increase in the basic housing allowance, and a 3.4 percent rise in the basic allowance for subsistence.

While working toward a $487 billion reduction in projected defense spending over the next decade, the fiscal 2013 budget proposal calls for $259 billion in savings in the next five years. Officials said the savings would be realized through improving efficiency, reducing overhead and duplication, and slowing the growth of personnel costs.

The plan would increase funding in drones and tactical vehicles, maintain the joint strike fighter, and end the C-27 airlift aircraft and new weather satellites, the Pentagon said.

The request includes an $88.5 billion request for Afghanistan and Iraq, down from $115.1 billion this year. Funding for Iraq -- $2.9 billion -- would provide for equipment reset and the Pentagon's costs for the State Department-led Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq.

Overseas contingency operations costs include $48.2 billion for operations, $9.3 billion for equipment reset and $5.7 billion for Afghan army and police forces.

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