Citing the country’s “extreme fiscal duress,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week said the administration would cut $78 billion from its five-year defense plan. The Pentagon budget would still continue to grow above inflation for the next three years, however.
Gates said plans call for the Army to be reduced by 27,000 active-duty troops, starting in 2015. The Marine Corp would decline by 15,000 to 20,000 troops. Gates also reiterated his earlier calls for reforms and greater efficiencies in military spending, a wide-ranging effort that deserves more congressional support.
Given the enormous growth in defense spending since 2001, it is reasonable to expect the Pentagon – like the rest of the government -- to find significant savings in the years ahead.