[xtypo_dropcap]T[/xtypo_dropcap]he Department of Defense plans to save $150 billion over the next five years. In an announcement on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said that the Department of Defense (DOD) will curb its spending by reducing overhead costs, improved business practices, and curb spending on redundant or ineffective programs.
The move by Secretary Gates is in anticipation of limited defense budget growth.
The DOD said in a statement that most of the savings will be funneled into the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force budgets "to invest in high priority programs that strengthen war-fighting capabilities."
“While America is at war and confronts a range of future security threats, it is important to not repeat the mistakes of the past by making drastic and ill-conceived cuts to the overall Defense budget," stated Gates in the Thursday announcement.
Some of the most notable changes include the Navy's plan to increase the repair and refurbishment of Marine equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan; the Air Force will modernize the radars of F-15s to make sure the fighter jets are viable well into the future; and the Army will focus on improved suicide prevention and substance abuse counseling for soldiers.
The DOD plans to extend the Marines’ F-35 fighter jet for another two years as part of the cost saving measures.
Gates said that he placed the extension on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 to make sure that the fighter is reliable.
The fighter will get “the equivalent of a two-year probation,” Gates said in a statement. “If we cannot fix this variant during this time frame and get it back on track in terms of performance, cost and schedule, then I believe it should be canceled.”
Gates said that he will restructure the program for the fighter aircraft. The Air Force and Navy models of the F-35 are on time but the model used by the Marines, a short takeoff and landing variant, is showing problems in testing.
Also, the DOD plans to cut the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle to save $13 billion. The amphibious vehicles can be used on land and in water, and can transport troops from 20 miles offshore.
Gates also said that his department will make an additional $100 billion in cuts that will go into effect by 2016.
Gates said other savings measures include reducing the number of military contractors, reducing the numbers of admirals, generals, and civilian executives, consolidating IT support, getting rid of redundant intelligence group, and reducing reports and studies deemed redundant. The military will also raise TRICARE premiums for retired veterans.
Jack Phillips contributed to this article.