So, Congress kicked the can down the road a bit yesterday. But sequestration is still on the table for two months from now. And if it comes to pass, the DoD is gonna take it in the shorts.
So, where and how should cuts be made?
The first big targets are always acquisitions and personnel. Both have aspects that make them attractive, and both have aspects that make them harder to realize.
First, acquisitions- high visibility programs are always tempting targets. And the word is, there are no sacred cows this time. The LCS and the F-35 are obvious targets, either for cancellation or scaled back funding. The Army’s GCV program is almost certainly going to slow down, and possibly the JLTV program, the planned successor the the Humvee. What are some other programs you think are vulnerable or should be? One thing that mitigates against cutting acquisition programs is the pork aspect. Congressmen that have defense contractors in their districts don’t like to see them go out of business.
Personnel costs are the single largest costs of DoD, so of course cutting troop levels is attractive. And that is actually already scheduled. But unlike the civilian world, it’s hard to lay off 50,000 in just a few month’s time. But I suspect further end strength cuts are coming. How big should the Army be, in terms of brigade combat team equivalents? How many fighter wing equivalents should the Air Force have? How big should the Navy be, in terms of ships and airwings? Where can they shave personnel without severely undermanning already shorthanded, overworked ships? The Marine’s force structure is the only one written in law, but their end strength isn’t. So when they cut numbers, what non-core Corps jobs go away?
Tough times are coming. Put your thinking caps on and try to spot the rocks and shoals ahead to minimize the troubles.