Pentagon Shutters Bases, But ‘Savings’ Dwarf Planned Spending Growth

Claims of War Funding Cut Reflect Labyrinthine Spending

The Pentagon has announced plans to consolidate its military forces in Europe, transitioning out of 15 bases, and saving some $500 million annually. At the same time, they announced plans to reduce their emergency war funding from its current $67 billion to $51 billion in 2016.

Both moves are being made in the context of sequestration, albeit in both cases far short of the cuts that are actually mandated by sequestration itself. Still, it’s a start, right?

Not really. The $16.5 billion savings are a small fraction of the planned baseline increase in military spending, from $495 billion to $534 billion. Even if the Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) actually stays reduced by 20%, overall military spending will be up markedly.

And the OCO cuts probably won’t stay, Congress almost always gives the Pentagon even more than it requests, as various Congressmen cram extra spending into different programs that benefit key donors, even if the Pentagon doesn’t actually need or want those programs.

With the ISIS war still escalating at an alarming rate, there’s no telling how big it will even be by FY2016, but however big it is, expect Congress to be at the ready with emergency expenditures, whether within the OCO or in other of its myriad spending bills, ratcheting up spending all the more.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.