The White House is poised to unveil its proposal to slim down the military to bring it in line with cuts agreed to in the recent debt ceiling deal, and in so doing give America a sense of Leon Panetta’s vision for the military’s future, the New York Times reports. It's already made some cuts at the top. Here are some other major areas that are likely under the knife:
- Compensation and benefits: It’s politically difficult to cut promised pay and benefits to soldiers, but both have been exploding and are thought to be on the chopping block. “If we allow the current trend to continue,” says one defense consultant, “we’re going to turn the Department of Defense into a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist.”
- Weapons programs: The top target here is likely the pricey F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a stealth jet that’s only superior to the F-16 in conflicts against foes advanced enough to have radar for it to evade. “It would matter some with Iran, it would matter a lot with China,” says one analyst.
- The size of the army: Before Sept. 11, the army had 480,000 troops—which wasn’t enough to fight both Iraq and Afghanistan, so it’s grown to 570,000. That will shrink some, but the question is how much. Expect the administration to argue that the US can’t afford a force that could fight two ground wars at once.
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