Leadership: March 6, 2000

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: Financial realities await the next president, whoever he might be. Current plans for new weapons (F-22, Joint Strike Fighter, wheeled vehicles for the Army, DDG21 destroyers) will drive procurement funding up from the current $50 billion (known as the "Clinton Procurement Holiday") to at least $80 billion, and this figure is merely what is politically possible not the higher figure actually needed if all programs are to proceed. Since troops cannot be reduced (and, apparently, neither can overseas deployments) this would push the defense budget from $280 billion to at least $310 billion in constant Y2000 dollars. Gore and McCain seem willing to fund this amount, but Bush's tax cuts and Bradley's social spending promises would keep them from doing so. Creative ideas will be needed to fund the required programs. Some of the ideas being discussed include:
@ Leave ships overseas for two or three years at a time, rotating the crews by airlift instead of bringing the ships home every six months. This would save $4 billion per year.
@ Cut a deal with Saddam (arms inspectors for an end to the No Fly Zone) to save $2 billion per year.
@ Reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa (replacing them with stock of equipment that Marines flying in from California could use) and the number of troops available to reinforce South Korea [counting on its improved military to fight that war] to save $3+ billion per year.
@ Unilaterally reduce US nuclear forces to START-II levels to save $4 billion per year.
@ Close unneeded military bases in the districts of powerful congressmen would save $2+ billion per year.--Stephen V Cole

 


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