US budget reform commission targets Department of Defense

12 November 2010

12 November 2010 | Angeline Albert

The US presidential commission for budget reform has pushed for a 15 per cent reduction in the Department of Defense’s procurement spending to save $20 billion by 2015. 

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is trying to cut more than $200 billion out of the US budget by 2015 and has said half of the savings ($100 billion) could come from a smaller defence budget.

Procurement spending at the Pentagon has doubled in the past 10 years. Since 2003, DoD has received an extra $214.5 billion in war-related procurement funds, (more than twice as much as its annual procurement spend).

The DoD estimated procurement spending in 2015 would total $137.5 billion. A 15 per cent cut would reduce fiscal 2015 procurement to a total of $117.5 billion.

On November 10, the commission’s draft proposals recommended slashing or eliminating Pentagon orders for big weapon systems to cut the US budget deficit.

It said the US should eliminate the V-22 Osprey helicopter. Last year, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, US representative Edolphus Towns said: “Our investigation indicates we’ve gotten half the aircraft for three times the cost - that’s not a recipe for longevity. It’s time to put the Osprey out of its misery.”  

A plan to terminate the acquisition of 288 V-22 aircraft (almost two-thirds of the planned buy), and substitute them with MH-60 helicopters, could save $1.1 billion in 2015.

The commission also said the US should eliminate the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle programmes for the Marine Corps. This would save $650 million in 2015.

It also recommends halving orders for Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the US military’s largest procurement programme for the navy and air force. Substituting F-16 and F/A-18Es for half of the planned buys of F-35 fighter aircraft will save an estimated $2.3 billion in 2015.

US military spending is about $700 billion a year – 20 per cent of the total federal budget. The commission’s final proposals will be presented on 1 December.

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