Pentagon Said to Offer Cuts in the Billions,” by Eric Schmitt, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/30/politics/30military.html, 30 December 2004 (from Democratic Underground).

News at first troubling

Under the proposal, the Navy would retire the carrier John F. Kennedy – one of the oldest carriers in the fleet, having first been deployed in 1968 – next year. The Kennedy, based in Mayport, Fla., recently completed a tour in the Persian Gulf, where its air wing was flying 60 missions a day, including flights to Iraq.

The Kennedy’s retirement would, for the first time since the mid-1990’s, reduce the size of the Navy’s carrier fleet.

The proposal also calls for reducing the number of new LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious landing docks, which are designed to transport Marine assault vehicles, amphibious landing craft and Osprey aircraft, to trouble spots around the world. The Navy had originally planned to buy five of the ships over the next five years, at about $1.2 billion apiece. The vessels are built by Northrop Grumman in New Orleans.

Another major change would be to build fewer new Navy destroyers than planned over the next six years. A team of contractors, led by Northrop Grumman, is building the ships, currently called DD(X), at a cost of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion per vessel, in Pascagoula, Miss., and in Bath, Me.

In addition, development of the Army’s $120 billion Future Combat System would be delayed. The system is designed to link soldiers by computer with remotely piloted aircraft and combat vehicles

But signs that Donald Rumsfeld has been pushing for this for a while

When Donald H. Rumsfeld became defense secretary in 2001, he took aim at costly weapons systems that he and his top aides said were relics of the cold war. Since then, the Army has canceled the $11 billion Crusader artillery system and the $38 billion Comanche reconnaissance helicopter program.

But the armed services have until now resisted deeper cuts and have been buoyed by big increases in military spending since Sept. 11.

No comment. This is a big change happening under the radar. But to what end, and how effective will it be?