The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has issued a report co-authored by retired Army Lt.-General David Barno which comes to a startling conclusion: we can cut $550 billion from the Pentagon budget over the next ten years and still maintain our military capabilities as the dominant superpower. Going beyond that, however, “could severely undermine military capabilities.”
Where can the cuts safely come from? For $350 billion to $400 billion in savings, the report recommends cutting the procurement of Navy littoral combat ships as well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. They also say we should return the Army and the Marine Corps to their pre-9/11 levels, which means about 480,000 soldiers and 175,000 Marines. Savings should also come by reducing the U.S. Navy’s carrier fleet from 11 to 10, and further cutting the Marine’s V-22 Osprey program and F-35 buys.
The report says the key is establishing strategic priorities. That means we should move away from relying on ground forces and focus more on naval and air assets. They give us more flexibility. And we nee to reorient our strategic thinking, the report says. “Decreasing resources will require U.S. decision makers to prioritize key geographic regions more effectively,” said Nora Bensahel, deputy director of the CNAS. The report says that means we need to shift military assets to the Asia-Pacific region. And which regions should receive less emphasis? Europe and the Middle East. I understand Europe. But the Middle East will become less important?
You can access the report here.