Patience for budget deal wearing thin

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Patience is wearing thin among American citizens, especially in Hampton Roads, where cuts to the nation's defense strategy are already being felt.

Lawmakers have exactly one week left to come to an agreement, or the sequester's across-the-board cuts will be enacted.

A report from The Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, D.C., is offering what it calls "A Moderate Plan for Additional Defense Budget Cuts."  

Document: "A Moderate Plan for Additional Defense Budget Cuts"

The report was written by Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow with the 21st Century Defense Initiative and Director of Research for the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings.

"It's the sort of thing we have to think about when we have a trillion dollar a year deficit and when the debt itself has become a national security threat," O'Hanlon said. "[I] proposed some ideas that I know not everybody's gonna love and which would entail some limited additional risks to national security."

In the 39-page report, O'Hanlon proposes cutting active duty Army forces to 450,000 soldiers and cutting the Marine Corps to 160,000 Marines.     He also suggests reducing the planned purchase of the F-35 fighter jets by half and asking the Navy to swap crew members on Navy ships deployed, instead of rotating vessels.   "You swap the crews by airplane," O'Hanlon said. "So you leave the ship overseas maybe for a couple of years. You bring one crew home and you take another crew that's been training on a similar kind of vessel."   The Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Sea Power, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) said "crew swap" is a concept shown not to be a "silver bullet" for savings.     "It is an alternative method to expand the effectiveness of the particular ship but increases the overall cost and limit maintenance availablities," O'Hanlon said.   O''Hanlon's plan for crew swapping would only apply to cruisers and destroyers, not aircraft carriers.     He admits this would be a complicated process and would take time but would increase efficiency by 30-35 percent by the Navy's own estimate.     The total cuts to the Defense Budget under O'Hanlon's plans would be approximately $200 billion.


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