The Pentagon says it is considering sequester-induced overhauls that could mean shuttering two combatant commands, eight service-supporting commands, and the elimination of some 5,000 uniformed and civilian personnel.
With defense spending facing roughly $500 billion in cuts over the next ten years, the Pentagon is examining the possibility of combining Northern Command and Southern Command, dissolving Africa Command and divvying it up between European Command and Central Command, and expanding Pacific Command to encompass Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The move to merge Northern and Southern Command would also likely signal the increasing involvement of the U.S. military in law enforcement activities and even possibly border control matters. The consolidation of Africa Command into European and Central Commands is seen as an indication that defense officials do not foresee large scale military operations in that theater in the near future.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was careful to underscore that the command consolidation option is far from settled.
“These changes would be far-reaching and require further analysis and consideration,” said Hagel.
Experts say the plan could prove viable and defray deeper cuts in military “muscle” in the form of troops and weapons; the key is implementation.
“It depends on how they do it,” said retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro.