Base Closures and Healthcare Hikes in DoD’s Plan for Next Year

Mike O'Brien

The Pentagon released its $526.6 billion budget for 2014 on Wednesday, calling for the closure of some bases and an increase in military healthcare fees.

The proposal also requests smaller military pay raises and cost-saving program cancellations.

However the Defense Department is asking Congress to carry on implementing some of its key objectives of the last year, including the strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific and to forge ahead with the F-35 development, the Pentagon's most expensive procurement program.

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The DoD has requested $8.4 billion for continued work on the three versions of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, plus $10.9 billion to build new ships and $9.2 billion for missile defenses.

Also included is $4.7 billion for cyberspace operations, $10.1 billion for space technologies and $379 million for development of a new long-range bomber.

In announcing the proposal, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said: "This budget made important investments in the president's new strategic guidance - including rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region and increasing funding for critical capabilities such as cyber, special operations and global mobility."

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The plan to close military bases is a highly unpopular request that was thrown out by lawmakers last year and has already been the subject of several hearings in 2013, Reuters reports.

In the short term base closures are costly and disrupt local economies. In the long term, they save money.

Increased fees for pharmacy co-pays and healthcare for retired military personnel are also in the plan. In the past, politicians have been resistant to touching the subject of healthcare for retirees.

It also calls for a one percent pay raise for personnel, below the 1.8 percent stipulated by the Employment Cost Index. In the past Congress has approved pay raises above the recommended rate.

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