My only experience with the Government budgeting process was my last year in the Marine Corps. On my return to the U.S., I was stationed in Barstow, California and put in command of the NCO School and the Rifle Range. When it came time to submit my budget request for the coming year I was given only one requirement by my Commanding Officer; “just make certain your budget request exceeds the current years budget.” I didn’t really think about the implications until just recently when the howls of protest about the Sequester and the mandated cuts of 2% across all government departments approached. A 2% cut would seem reasonable to most people, I think, but when you have grown accustomed to an ever increasing budget, it’s difficult to hit the (-) on the calculator. All we hear is that a 2% cut threatens our ability to defend our Country even though we spend more on defense than the rest of the worlds’ governments combined.
I am not an expert regarding the Defense Budget but I have a suggestion as to how the Pentagon might save more than a few dollars of the taxpayers’ money. The retirement benefits (including medical benefits) are a growing part of the Defense Budget. Politically it’s easy to gain support for these benefits because these people “laid their lives on the line to defend our country!” That is true for some military retirees, but how many? Anyone who has ever been in the Military knows that it is a very small percentage of military personnel who are ever in “harms way.” The vast majority, have jobs similar to every other government or private sector employee. My recollection from my Vietnam experience was that it took 7 personnel in the “rear with the gear” (the REMFs) to support one combatant. And of course a huge number of military personnel were in the U.S. and in other non-combat zones around the world. In todays high tech military the percentage of military personnel “laying their lives on the line” is smaller than ever. Even those flying the deadly drones in the Middle East, are based here in the U.S.
In my opinion, our Military should be increasing the care and retirement benefits dramatically for those who have been “in harm’s way,” but for those who have never been shot at, taken “incoming”, flown a plane, or walked through a mine field, they should no longer be allowed to retire with the same benefits as those who have. Unfortunately, it’s the non-combatants who make all the spending decisions.