Better ways to cut military costs

Published 8:59 pm Saturday, March 8, 2014

By Rick Jensen

The difference between President Obama’s approach and that of Republicans like Senator Tom Coburn is the Democratic president wants to cut spending on military men and women’s salaries and benefits, while Coburn seeks to cut spending on jets and ships.

The president also wants to cut cost of living increases for retirees who served our country

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Yes, the Pentagon is facing $37 billion in cuts. So what would be the best way to match those cuts? Reduce our well-trained fighting force when terrorists are recruiting and deploying forces around the world and amid serious international threats or reduce billions of dollars in questionable weapons programs?

Coburn has one of the most consistently diligent teams digging through defense spending reports from the Government Accountability Office.

A quick and easy way to achieve $37 billion in savings is to simply end the F-35 Strike Fighter boondoggle. It’s years behind schedule, billions over budget and will be just as expensive to fly and maintain each plane over its lifespan.

It’s also politically impossible to end the program outright, so Coburn’s team has proposed allowing the Navy and Marine Corps to purchase cheaper F/A-18 Super Hornet jets, instead of making the F-35 the standard platform for every branch of the military, thereby saving $18 billion.

Also, do we really need 11 aircraft carriers? Many analysts say we don’t Save $7 billion by reducing aircraft carriers from 11 to 10 and Navy Air Wings from 10 to 9.

Of course, beaching an aircraft carrier also means displacing a crew of about 5,000.

One of the more controversial ideas is closing Department of Defense elementary schools to save about $10 billion.

More than 25,000 students are taught by 2,300 teachers who are employees of the Department of Defense. Sadly, a report by the Center for Public Integrity stated, “Conditions are so bad (on military-run schools) that some educators at base schools envy the civilian schools off base, which admittedly have their own challenges.”

The problem with locking the doors on military elementary schools is putting that population pressure on some local school districts that don’t have enough classroom space. Building new schools would cost those taxpayers more than is being spent on the base schools.

There are billions more that can be saved by eliminating programs that simply duplicate other effective programs, but what congressman wants to face angry people who lost a job?

Perhaps it is easier for Democrats to simply fire people, but there are better ways to cut defense spending.

Rick Jensen is a talk show host on Delaware’s 1150AM WDEL and 93.7FM HD3. His show streams live on WDEL.com from 1 to 4 p.m. Email him at rick@wdel.com.