Pentagon Cost-cutting Plan to Downsize Army, Freeze Pay, Scrap Hardware

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released on Monday a Pentagon budget cuts proposal that will shrink the U.S. Army force, freeze pay of high-ranking officers, scrap military assets and close down bases.

The proposals are in line with the Bipartisan Budget Act reached by President Barack Obama and Congress in December. The law caps military spending to about $496 billion for fiscal year 2015.

From the current 528,000 troops, Hagel is proposing an army size of 440,000 to 450,000 by 2019. The proposed size is smaller than during World War II level.

Hagel also proposed the elimination of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet. He said the A-10 is old, no longer in production and its function can be performed by other aircraft. The A-10 was first fielded in the 1970s with an anti-tank role. Today, it is used for close-air support missions for ground troops.

U-2 spy planes will retired in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk spy plane. The budget for the expensive F-35 warplanes will be retained.

Only 32 of the targeted 52 combat ships will be built while 11 cruisers will be ordered into reduced operating status. The number of aircraft carrier will be retained at 11.

Another proposal was a one-year salary freeze for general and flag officers, but basic pay for military personnel would rise by 1 percent. Tax-free housing allowances will be curtailed and active-duty and retired members of the military will be required to make a larger contribution to their health care costs in the TRICARE program. A $1.4 billion reduction in the annual subsidy for military commissaries would also be reduced.

Lastly, Hagel will again revive a request to close some bases. Congress has sat on the request for the last two years.

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