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Do it Yourself Defense Cuts

Military life is full of things we can’t control — the latest of which is the defense cut battle on Capitol Hill. The Pentagon has to axe at least $450 billion over the next ten years, and is facing some tough decisions while getting ready to do so. What should get the first look? Super pricey retiree benefits? Military family perks? Weapons systems that may or may not be needed? Military personnel based in Europe?

I’m sure if I was President for a day I could have all of this ironed out pronto. … or not.

As if just to emphasize how hard this, the New York Times has a fun defense strategy widget that lets you choose from a menu of items to cut. The options range from benefits to weapons to personnel.

You’ll note the absence of a few options you and I might consider no-brainers (for example, reducing the recreation programs or base hourly childcare budget — both things I love but are not necessary).There are also a few things that seem to make perfect sense based on their description, but really aren’t what they seem (example: combining the commissary and exchange systems, which we’ve talked about in the past).

Like Rebekah Sanderlin over at Operation Marriage, I felt pretty bad about the stuff that I decided to get rid of. And I’m sure my choices reflect my personal bias as an active duty family member. But nonetheless, faced with only the options on this sheet (and my limited knowledge of a lot of the weapon and defense systems), here is my personal defense cuts tally and what it would save over ten years (according to the New York Times):

        Option                                                                                                  Savings

Raise Tricare drug co-pays                                                                       $26 billion

Exclude military retirees from Tricare Prime                                      $105 billion

Freeze for 3 years salaries of Pentagon civilian employees            $15.5 billion

Cut Pentagon civilian workforce by 20 percent                                  $73 billion

Replace F-35 Joint Strike Fight with F-16s and F/A-18s               $48 billion

Reduce Navy Ship Buying                                                                        $55 billion

Cancel the Air Force’s Next Gen Bomber                                            $38 billion

Reduce military presence in Europe/Asia                                           $69.5 billion

Reduce Defense Department travel costs                                            $14 billion

Standardize spending on base support                                                $20 billion

Audit the Pentagon                                                                                   $25 billion

 

I beg you, don’t judge me for my choices — but instead go and make your own. Make sure you click “submit plan” at the end so you can see what others have chosen.

And when you’re done — come back here and discuss. What should’ve been in the options that wasn’t? Are you surprised by any of the choices other have made?

P.S. My husband just glanced over my shoulder, saw what I chose and said “I hate your choices.” So if you do judge me, you’ll be in good company.

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.