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The Pentagon will eliminate 102 flag and general officer billets as part of an effort to save money across the armed services, according to a March 14 memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates obtained by Stars and Stripes.

In addition to those billets, the Defense Department will cut 176 civilian senior executive slots and 33 other departmental positions from its payroll.

Cuts laid out in the memo hit all position types and levels, and come at a time when the department is working to adjust to the new economic austerity.

The moves are expected to save only about $100 million in the next few years, but are part of larger plans to save more than $20 billion through front-office reorganizations and contracting cuts.

The general and flag officer positions will be phased out over two years as the incumbents complete their tour, according to the memo.

The Air Force will lose 17 service-specific slots, while the Army will lose seven and the Navy nine. Twenty-five joint billets will also be eliminated.

Twenty-eight other leadership positions are to be phased out, but those cuts will depend on a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the next four years, according to the memo.

At the top of those billets is the director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, which was created in 2006 to combat roadside bombs, at the time a growing problem in Iraq.

Other cuts dependent on the end to the Afghanistan war include leadership for the joint task force responsible for care of wounded troops in the Washington, D.C., region.

Command of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is another position that will be cut, which will be based on closure of the detention center.

At part of the reorganization, combatant commands were ordered to undertake sweeping reorganizations with savings being achieved through significant cuts in personnel.

At U.S. European Command, headquarters manpower must be reduced by 10 percent, which will achieve $2 million in annual savings. The reductions include one general officer slot, two senior executive billets, 54 military billets and 14 civilian jobs. Cut in headquarters expenditures also provide $7.8 million in savings for 2012.

Sixteen other Europe based jobs, described as “support billets” not necessary to complete the EUCOM mission also have been abolished, achieving a savings of $848,000.

The headquarters at U.S. Africa and Pacific Commands escaped cuts.

The cuts were wide-ranging. The Defense Commissary Agency will save about $10 million in various personnel moves and cuts. DECA’s “Health and Nutrition” program also was eliminated at a savings of $282,000, though Gates said the agency will continue to provide “a healthy selection of food choices for its patrons.” However, promoting a healthy lifestyle is not part of the DECA mission, Gates said.

The Defense Department school system will eliminate “duplicative” functions, cutting 17 civilian jobs and saving $8 million in Fiscal 2012. Ninety-six nonacademic civilian jobs will also be cut, trimming $10.9 million from the rolls.

Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this report.

Geoffz@estripes.osd.mil

vandiverj@estripes.osd.mil

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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