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Defense budget cuts don't have to hurt national defense

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Defense spending budget cuts could be readily done through smart reductions that won't compromise national security or presently deployed troops, says the Center for American Progress.

In a report (.pdf) dated Oct. 31, the think tank says coming Defense Department cuts over the next decade, roughly $982 billion from Budget Control Act cuts and spending caps, can be done while still giving a 20 percent increase to the federal government's international affairs budget.

The report notes that the minimum BCA budget cut of $487 billion over the next 10 years is not as harsh as it sounds because reductions come from prior projected increases in defense spending. These cuts actually equal a $6 billion cut for fiscal 2013, followed by budget growth at the same rate of inflation.

After adjusting for inflation, we are at "the highest levels of Pentagon spending since World War II" and that all the proposed cuts would bring the military budget back to fiscal 2006 levels.

For fiscal 2013, the report finds $70 billion in potential savings in personnel and weapons programs, such as cancelling the V-22 Osprey helicopter, reducing the nuclear arsenal to 311 weapons, and overhauling the retirement plan.

The report also supports the 2012 Pentagon budget plan to reduce military pay increases starting in 2015. These and other cuts, it says, would more than meet the needs under the BCA and the Jan. 2, 2013 sequestration.

The report also suggests spending some of the saved money on international development and humanitarian assistance programs. It cites a 2008 Pentagon study that found "police work, intelligence gathering, and nonviolent political and economic change" are often more effective at fighting terrorism than direct military force.

The document lays out a framework to balance strength at home and abroad by cutting waste and investing in preventative measures it says are much less expensive than military intervention.

For more:
download the full report (.pdf)

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