A Step Back into the Future

To achieve $50 billion in DoD savings in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), the Stimson Center proposed 27 recommendations including Pentagon management reforms, changes to force structure, and reduced modernization costs, including changes to Reserve Component (RC) missions and retiree benefits.

On September 24, 2013, the Stimson Center released its report, Strategic Agility: Strong National Defense for Today’s Global andFiscal Realities. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank asserts that their “strategy would protect U.S. interests even at much lower levels of spending.” The nonpartisan institution recommended the $50 billion in savings for FY15, claiming that such cuts would not “gut operation capability.”

 
 
ROA attended the public release of the report, but left with the feeling that Stimson’s guidance mirrored recommendations of the past, and that some of the military savings being claimed by the organization were efficiency dollars that have already been taken by the Pentagon.
 
For the RC, the report was both good and bad news. Stimson recommended mirror ROA’s position of maintaining the strategic depth of the Reserve and Guard, and actually increasing the size of the Reserve Component by putting weapons and combat veterans into the RC. But the kicker is that the center suggested that the RC return to its traditional role in domestic emergencies and as the nation’s strategic reserve for foreign wars. In doing so, the nonprofit suggested that they can keep the capability but “reduce the funding levels for the Guard and Reserve somewhat.”
 
The report strongly suggested that by avoiding entry into protracted ground wars saving can occur by avoiding entry into protracted ground wars. This permits deeper cuts into the Army force structure to 450,000; and a reduction in Marine Corps end-strength to 160,000. The Army and Marine Reserves and Army National Guard would be the hedge against a possible protracted war. Stimson suggests that this scenario would permit time to train Reservists to needed readiness levels once they are mobilized.
 
As for the 1,100 fighter aircraft in the Air Force, Stimson recommended a redistribution in light of a waning need for large-scale operations. Stimson proposes a scalable and surge ready force with increased fighter capability in the Reserve would adequately support contingency operations as they arise. The report suggested that 500 operational high-end fights be retained by the Active Component, as well as an additional 250 F-16s for training and operation contingencies. The remaining 350 vintage F-16 aircraft would be transferred to the Reserve Component as a surge capability.
 
The report also suggested cuts to personnel at the Pentagon that could affect 50,000 civilian employees. Reforming military retirement, increasing health benefit fees, and eliminating government appropriations to the commissaries and post exchanges are other points of interest in the report. Stimson calculated that by reducing benefits, the Pentagon can save $8 billion in FY15.
 
In total, to achieve the $50 billion in savings, the Stimson report makes 27 recommendations including management reforms, changes to force structure, and reduced modernization costs.

ROA will continue to advocate for its members and the Reserve Components. After 12 years of war, the operational reserve will not be put back on the shelf, nor will promised deferred benefits be changed or reduced.