Military personnel bankrupting Pentagon?

Thursday - 9/9/2010, 5:22pm EDT

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  • The U.S. military must reduce the cost of paying its people, funding their retirements, and underwriting their health care; that's the word from one retired Marine Crops General. Retired General Arnold Punaro says the skyrocketing personnel costs are not only costly but outdated. Punaro is now a senior fellow for the Defense Business Board. Last year the Pentagon spent more than $46 billion dollars on retiree pay, and that doesn't include health care. Punaro suggested closing the Joint Forces Command, a recommendation Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed just a few weeks later. The big problem? Punaro says many people leave the service after 20 years when they reach their highest level of proficiency. Many go on to take high-paying defense sector jobs while collecting a DoD pension and enjoying discounted military retiree health plans. So what's the solution? Pentagon leaders are pushing toward a goal of freeing up $100 billion over five years and shifting those monies to hardware programs. But Punaro says it's not enough.

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