Review Could Cut Defense Budget by 25%, Powell Says
The Defense Department needs to conduct an extensive review of weapons systems, personnel levels, training and military strategy, which could lead to a 25% lower defense budget, the nation’s top military officer said.
Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview that “every single hardware system,” military base, and operational doctrine should be up for grabs in a review aimed at ending or modifying programs and expenditures suited only to the military threat that existed at the height of the Cold War.
Powell said such a review could be used to restructure a U.S. military force to roughly three-quarters its current size within four to five years, without endangering national security. He also indicated it would help fend off congressional demands for much steeper cuts.
Although Powell did not cite specific dollar amounts, a 20% to 25% spending cut could reduce the current $291 billion budget by as much as $73 billion. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has already proposed reducing the current budget by 2% each year through 1997 after taking into account the effects of inflation.
The House of Representatives last week approved a spending plan for the next fiscal year that would trim $8 billion from the current Pentagon budget and $24 billion from the Administration’s proposed level.