With the Pentagon looking for new ways to cut back on costs, a report released this week presents a plan to save $250 billion over the next two decades. All they have to do is take away retirement plans from veterans.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that any large cuts in defense spending would “terribly weaken” the national security of the US. “This is not about the Defense Department or the State Department,” Panetta told reporters. “This is about the United States of America.”
That being said, the DoD doesn’t plan on curbing the $115 billion it will spend on rust-proofing their fleets during the next five years. Sure the Pentagon announced this week that they would be investigating the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, to make sure they aren’t abusing the government funding that makes up their multi-million dollar contract. And yes, last week also saw the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 unmanned aircraft lose contact with military operators after the Pentagon has put $300 million into the project. Those operations will continue.
Benefits, however, will not.
Under current military procedure, US vets stand to receive a retirement income of half of their salary after completing 20 years of service in the armed forces. A 24-page presentation outlined this week, however, proposes something drastically different. Under the new deal, the “Modernizing the Military Retirement System” would put in place a 401k-style plan that would offer government contributions once vets reach regular retirement age.
While the new initiative would open benefits up to those who serve less than 20 years — and currently out in the cold if they part ways with the Pentagon before that — vets with lengthy tenures with the DoD stand to receive substantially less.
“If you want to maintain the core mission which is to defend the nation and have the strategic capabilities we need, we can't have all their money tied up in retirement programs,” says former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, reports the Daily Mail.
Holtz-Eakin says the new plan could save the US a fortune over the next 20 years as the Pentagon is aiming to cut around $400 billion in spending. In the meantime, however, some are worried that the new plan might discourage Americans from enlisting.
"My main concern is it might change the whole outlook on people wanting to join the service,” veteran Danny Seeman tells WBOC 16.
Panetta, meanwhile, says, “We need to have a responsible conversation about how we are going to prepare ourselves for the future.”
Wednesday also saw the competition of the fiftieth center fuselage for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter manufactured by the Northrop Grumman Corporation for the Pentagon. That would all be fine and dandy if all 20 of the aircraft weren’t currently grounded.
Let’s just hope they aren’t gathering any rust while sitting around. That’s a bill that’s high enough as it is.