US military told to find dollars 11bn worth of cuts

LES ASPIN, the new US Defence Secretary, is ordering the Pentagon to come up with almost dollars 11bn ( pounds 7.5bn) of spending cuts for the 1994 fiscal year as the first stage of a compression of the military that will reduce the total active-duty troop strength by 400,000, or almost one-quarter, over the next five years.

In one sense the reductions are but a long-expected move by President Clinton to pare back the defence budget and shift resources towards his two overriding goals of boosting the domestic economy while making big inroads into the dollars 300bn federal budget deficit during his first term.

In dollar terms, the reductions sought by Mr Clinton fit in with his campaign pledge to cut the Pentagon budget by dollars 60bn more than the previous Republican administration. Indeed President George Bush had planned to reduce defence spending next year to dollars 280bn, dollars 3bn less than in fiscal 1992/1993.

But they jettison an article of faith of both the former President and the Chiefs of Staff, led by General Colin Powell, that an active military of at least 1.6 million is essential for national security by allowing the US to cope simultaneously with two regional conflicts of the size of the Gulf war against President Saddam Hussein.

Instead, the longer-term 'Policy and Programming Guidance' attached to Mr Aspin's demands for next year foresees an active troop strength of just 1.4 million in 1997, compared with 1.8 million at present. Among other things, this means the Pentagon will have to comply with existing legislation, which Mr Bush was hoping to amend had he been re-elected, ordering US forces in Europe to be reduced to 100,000 in 1996 from 185,000 at present.

But even the short-term savings, to be spread roughly equally between the navy, army and air force, could cause some difficulties as Pentagon planners scramble to meet next Monday's deadline for a first set of proposals, barely a week before Mr Clinton's State of the Union message presenting the outline of his economic programme. Many defence experts reckon that even the larger Bush budget for 1993/1994 was insufficient to fund many existing programmes.

The change of adminstration meanwhile has brought a variety of new frictions between a Democratic White House and the military establishment, ranging from the dispute over homosexuals in the armed services to Mr Clinton's inclination towards direct US intervention in the Bosnian crisis, which Gen Powell and his advisers strongly oppose.

Nor is Gen Powell well-disposed to deeper cuts in defence. Last week Pentagon planners made public internal documents implicitly rejecting campaign calls from Mr Clinton for the elimination of 'redundancies and duplications' in the structure of the armed forces. As long ago as March 1992, morever, he dismissed a similar cutbacks blueprint from Mr Aspin (then head of the House Armed Services Committee) as 'unbalanced' and 'fundamentally flawed'.

Under the 1993/1994 plan, the biggest burden falls on the navy and marines, which have to find savings of dollars 3bn. The air force budget is to be trimmed by dollars 2.8bn and that of the army by dollars 2.5bn - in all cuts of some 4 per cent from the spending sought by the Bush administration.

Mr Clinton is also taking an axe to the Strategic Defence Initiative programme, which Mr Bush had tried to expand despite considerable congressional hostility. Next year's 'Star Wars' spending will be unchanged at dollars 3.8bn, instead of rising to dollars 6.3bn as Mr Bush had requested.

WASHINGTON - President Clinton is close to selecting a new nominee for attorney-general, and Kimba M Wood, a New York federal judge who presided over the trial of the junk-bond trader, Michael Milken, is a leading contender, AP reports.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor