Pentagon military leaders are resisting suggested cuts of up to 3,500 jobs that civilian defense officials said can be eliminated without harming security.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is arguing that no more than 500 positions should be cut from U.S. military commands worldwide, while civilian manpower authorities believe the figure should be between 3,000 and 3,500, officials said Tuesday.The two sides are "not even close" to agreement on a figure, said one official, who spoke on condition he not be identified. "The military guys are already starting to cry that they can't do more with less."
Sources said the dispute is scheduled to be resolved by Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci in time to be reflected in the fiscal 1990 budget when it is submitted to Congress in January.
"You can be sure that Carlucci is going to force more than 500 cuts out of the military, but it's hard to predict how many more," said one source.
"And since it's a lame-duck budget submission, his decision may or may not hold," added another official. "He is serious about this, though."
The current fight dates to an internal study ordered by Carlucci last December, shortly after he assumed the post of defense secretary.
The study was performed by a 22-member panel chaired by Derek J. Vander Schaaf, the Pentagon's deputy inspector general. In unusually blunt terms, it concluded in February the Pentagon could eliminate 7,309 jobs from headquarters around the world - or 12 percent of the total - without jeopardizing readiness.
Such cuts would save more than $300 million a year in operating costs and eliminate duplication that in some cases almost guarantees America's military forces will have a hard time fighting any war, the study asserted.
The panel found the Unified and Specified Commands around the world were supported by 59,510 civilian and military staff, adding: "The review disclosed significant areas of overlapping responsibilities, duplication of functions, layering and opportunities for saving manpower."
The panel's conclusion that 7,309 jobs were superfluous was sent for review by the Pentagon's office for force management and personnel and then by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the six-member body that includes the nation's highest-ranking admirals and generals.
The panel also suggested 286 positions could be slashed from the staff of the Joint Chiefs itself, which now numbers 2,005.