It's long seemed unthinkable, but US military personnel could soon see cuts to their pay and benefits. Top commanders are considering such cuts as they deal with a decreasing budget, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chair said this weekend. While acknowledging that "we can't pay [soldiers] enough," Gen. Martin Dempsey added, "We also have an institution to manage." No specifics have been revealed; details will be released along with the proposed military budget in February, the Wall Street Journal reports. Dempsey did say benefits wouldn't be immediately cut, no changes will be made to the retirement system, and that the plan is a multi-year effort to slow down compensation.
Pay and benefits will soon make up 60% of the military budget (currently, the cost of military personnel is about 50% of the budget), meaning that if they're not curbed, there won't be enough money for new weapons or training within the decade, Dempsey said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Obama must approve the plan, then Congress, and so far it's not looking too popular with lawmakers. The news comes days after a Congressional Budget Office report that said cutting military pay is one of many options to reduce the budget deficit, Military.com reports.