Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today a series of what the Pentagon calls “efficiencies decisions” designed to save the Department of Defense more than $150 billion over the next five years primarily by reducing overhead costs, improving business practices and culling “excess or troubled programs.”
Secretary Gates is getting savings by such means as having fewer admiral and generals, curbing the proliferation of defense department intelligence units and “eliminating nearly 400 internally-generated reports that over the years have consumed vast amounts of staff time and energy, often to produce documents that are of questionable relevance, value, and in many cases, have been rarely read.”
What caught the headlines, though, was cancelation of the Marine Corps. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle — “an 80,000 pound armored vehicle that skims the surface of the ocean for long distances at high speeds before transitioning to combat operations on land.” The EFV, originally conceived during the Reagan Administration, has already consumed more than $3 billion to develop and will cost another $12 billion to build – all for a fleet with the capacity to put 4,000 troops ashore.
Not catching so many headlines was some good news for shipbuilders. The Pentagon intends to reinvest the savings it has identified. That includes ordering more ships over the next five years — including, said Secretary Gates today, a destroyer, a Littoral Combat Ship, an ocean surveillance vessel and fleet oilers.