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Gates starts outlining Pentagon cuts

By Ed O'Keefe

The Post's Dana Hedgpeth has the details:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Tuesday started laying out some details of his plans to save $100 billion over the next five years as he tries to run the Pentagon more efficiently.
Over the past decade, the Pentagon's spending has averaged a growth rate of 7 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, including the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that rate is expected to slow to 1 percent as the wars wind down.
Money saved in cutting overhead and other inefficient costs on weapons programs will go toward modernizing and recapitalizing military equipment and sustaining troops, Pentagon officials said.
Gates on Tuesday said the Pentagon must get "more bang for its buck and shift its focus to the military's needs for the future."

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By Ed O'Keefe  | September 14, 2010; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  Budget, Military  
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Everything Secretary Gates said sounds well and good. However, none of it will ever come to pass until the near monopoly we have in the defense industry is no longer closely interwoven into the military and the Congress.

There is no excuse for replacing 700 F-15 Eagles with only 163 F-22 Raptors because of the obscene cost per plane. There was no excuse for the Navy to turn a fleet of modern amphibious warfare ships into artificial reefs just so they could be replaced with ships of similar design primarily for the sake of keeping the builder in business. There was no excuse for the Army to adopt a camouflage uniform that is ideal in nighttime and low light conditions, but stands out like a flower garden in the bright sun. Of course, there are good examples of good procurments like the highly effective unmanned drone aircraft that were used in OEF-OIF, the new MRAP vehicles coming on line, the construction of fast vehicle transport vessels based on proven commercial hulls modified for use by the Military Sealift Command and the constant evolution of body armor that has been taking place for the last 15 years.

The main problem is that the defense industry does not operate in the same free market world the rest of us must operate in. If there were more shipyards and more aircraft manufacturers in competition with eachother, and more civilian and foreign military contracts being filled by those "many and competitive" industries, then costs would be competitive as in any free market economy. Finally, the "money" services need to follow the lead of the Marines who evaluate and judge weapons, vehicles, aircraft and equipment based on their actual battlefield performance and need. The Marines invented the term, "Doing More With Less," much to the discomfort of their parent service, the Navy. There might be a lesson there for the Navy and the Air Force.

Posted by: OIFVet06 | September 14, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

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