What is 25% of the Defense budget? Is it authorizations or outlays? The difference is close enough for this discussion. What about the DoD "Budget Function" vs DoD plus the "off-budget" Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)? For FY 2008 requests, that is $464 Billion vs $625 Billion total. Here is a quick and dirty look.
|Budget Area||% of DoD Only||% w/ GWOT|
|Ops & Maintenance||35.7%||26.5%|
|Military Construction Bill||4.6%||3.4%|
|Global War on Terrorism||N/A||22.67%|
These numbers don't add up to 100%, but pretty close. The point is that finding 25% is not going to be easy. Military Personnel is a big chunk and it is generally agreed that we need to add numbers to the Army and Navy and the new Air Force Chief of Staff has asked to add a few thousand more.
The Operations and Maintenance (O&M) budget is getting things done day to day. It is maintaining the force. If the Congress cuts O&M we buy less spare parts and airplanes don't fly as much, ships sail less and Army equipment is deadlined more often.
The Procurement line is a favorite to cut. But, cutting it is mortgaging our future--see my previous post. And, you don't just call up Boeing or Lockheed and say stop work. You have to do it right and think about the "termination costs," which could cost millions. And, some of this Procurement is about moving the military forward, like the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS). Killing the F-22 and F-35 and some Navy shipbuilding systems (like the ZUMWALT Class Destroyer (formerly DDX-1000), which the Navy tried to kill a few months ago and Congress kept alive), but that won't get you to 25%.
Military Construction is only a few points and it is necessary for the BRAC, the Base Realignment and Closure action--which is designed to save money in the long run. The BRAC is not cheap. Also, housing for families is in there for almost $3 billion.
I would argue that Congressman Frank's talk of cutting 25% may sound good to his base, but it is going to be hard to do. And, he has to get it through a Congress that might still include people like Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), from the city of my birth, Johnstown, PA. Congressman Murtha is the king of the "ear mark." The other way to think about "ear mark" is "pork."
Regards -- Cliff