Service Chiefs Preparing for Major Defense Budget Cuts

MOAA Veterans Update

On April 25, Service Personnel Chiefs testified about the FY2013 budget submission before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee chaired by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA).

Thomas R. Lamont, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, outlined the difficult decisions the Army staff has made concerning personnel reductions, which represents more than 45% of the Army’s overall annual costs. They are presently planning to draw down 70,000 servicemembers in the next five years.

Roughly 24,000 enlisted personnel and between 4,000 and 5,000 officers will be forced to leave the Army. The remainder of the reductions will be achieved through attrition, Lamont said.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) commented with dismay that “many of those people have served multiple tours for us” and their forced departure will have a negative impact.

According to Lamont, the Army continues to examine its force structure and the need to shift more capabilities into the reserve forces which may be required to provide a significant portion of our future combat punch.

Both Sen. Ayotte and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke out against the reductions, reminding all that America has never been very good at predicting military threats.

Lamont also pressed committee members to approve Pentagon-proposed TRICARE fee hikes, stating that TRICARE “is a superb health benefit, one of the best in the country…but the time has come to scale back…just as in all areas of the defense budget, we need to make decisions that preserve a strong benefit yet reflect the fiscal realities of the times.”

“The proposed TRICARE fees reflect appropriate adjustments,” added Juan Garcia, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

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