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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs: We Might Need To Bring Back….The Draft?!

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: With Deep Budget Cuts, We Might Need To Bring Back….The Draft?!
By Andrew Tilghman - Staff writer - armytimes.com
Posted : Thursday Jul 14, 2011 12:51:08 EDT
Posted by Sun Tzu Jul 16th 2011 at 11:00am - bigpeace.com
The Pentagon is considering massive changes to the force — including a draft — amid fears that new and far deeper budget cuts are looming just over the horizon, a top military official said Thursday.
Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, offered a timeline for how deep cuts will affect the force during the next decade, including big reductions in operational budgets, slashing the size of the active-duty force and even scaling back entitlements such as retirement and health care.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Cartwright said the Defense Department’s internal planners are bracing for budget cuts far deeper than those announced by President Obama in April. Obama proposed carving $400 billion from the defense budget plan over the next 12 years, a cut of about 7 percent.
“The reality is, what you are most worried about a deeper cut? Is there another $400 billion behind the first $400 billion?” Cartwright said. “Now you start to look at things like, ‘Do I want to hollow out the force? Do I want to start to reduce the force size?’ ”
Cartwright divided the next decade into three segments and outlined the changes troops should expect as the budget cuts take effect, starting with a big drop in funding for things like training, flying hours and steaming days.
“The first three years, pretty much the levers that you have are readiness, operating costs, things like that … you’ll have to scale them back in the first three years. You can touch things like pay a little bit, but not a lot,” he said. “The second three years tend to be on the structure side of the house. So that is forces, changing the number of forces that you have or the character of the forces.”

“People generally will look at it and go, ‘That means taking people out of the services.’ Not necessarily. You may just shift the balance of the services from active to Guard or reserve or to — the dirty word — a draft,” he said. “Those are all different characters and they have different costs that you can manage, based on time when you bring those forces into activity. We are looking at all of that full range. We’ll have to look at everything.”
Some research suggests that the Pentagon could save money by shifting more troops into the reserve and activating those troops more often.
Cartwright said the biggest changes will come at the end of the decade, if and when Congress makes major changes to laws governing base closures and big-ticket benefits like military health care and retirement.
“Out beyond six years, you are generally dealing with infrastructure and entitlements, those types of things because it take that long, one to get the laws to accept the fact you are going to shut a place down, or you are going to have to change entitlements,” Cartwright said.
“We’re trying to understand that if there is another $400 billion … what kinds of things [we] will want to do and what is the character of the force we want to have when were done.”

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