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The ax falls: Highlights of the budget proposal

Spectators get a close look at an A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the Warthog, during the 2011 open house and aerial demonstration at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. This year's edition of the event has been canceled due to budget constraints.

The 2015 Defense budget proposal, unveiled Monday at the Pentagon, would affect the services as follows:

Army

  • Reduce Army active end strength to 440,000 to 450,000 — rather than previous plans for 490,000 — by 2017.
  • Cut Army National Guard and Reserves forces by 5 percent, to 335,000 and 185,000 respectively.
  • Kill Ground Combat Vehicle program.
  • Army Guard Apache attack helicopters be transferred to active-duty units. The Active Army will transfer Blackhawk helicopters to the National Guard, where they will bolster the Guard’s needed capabilities in areas like disaster relief and emergency response.

Air Force

  • Eliminate A-10 close air support aircraft fleet.
  • Eliminate U2 spy plane fleet.
  • Reduce planned armed Reaper and Predator combat air patrols to 55 from 65 (an air patrol is one aircraft on station around the clock, requiring 3 or 4 planes).
  • Protect investments in the new long-range bomber, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the new KC-46 refueling tanker.

Navy and Marine Corps

The Navy and Marine Corps will be less impacted by the cuts than the other services

  • Maintain 11 carrier groups. However, if sequestration spending levels remain in place in Fiscal Year 2016, the George Washington carrier would need to be retired.
  • Cut littoral combat ship buys from 52 to 32
  • Continue purchases of destroyers and attack subs at a rate of two destroyers and two attack submarines per year.
  • Provide for one additional Afloat Staging Base.
  • Preserved the fleet’s modernization programs and provide for increases in ship inventory over the next five years.
  • Avoid additional reductions in Marine Corps end strength beyond those already planned. Current plans call for the Marines to draw down from 190,000 to 182,000. But if sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, the Marines would have to shrink to 175,000.

Other implications

The budget plan would also have the following force structure implications:

  • Grow special operations forces from roughly 66,000 to 69,700 personnel.
  • Preserve all three legs of the nuclear triad and make further investments in the nuclear force.

Source: Department of Defense

news@stripes.com

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