Greg Ip

Articles by The Economist’s U.S. Economics Editor

The defence budget: In the firing line

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The Pentagon starts to grapple with spiralling health-care costs

May 26th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition

[Greg Ip] AMERICAN soldiers, as their recent dispatch of Osama bin Laden demonstrates, may well be the world’s best.
Unfortunately for their cash-strapped paymaster, they are very expensive. After languishing in the 1980s, military compensation has, since the mid-1990s, steadily outstripped that of civilians (see chart). This month Robert Gates, Barack Obama’s outgoing defence secretary, launched a review of Pentagon spending. He warned in a speech on May 24th that pay, pensions and health care would all need to be restructured, or they would crowd out the purchase of vital new weapons.

Military benefits, from subsidised food and education to free college tuition, have traditionally been used to enhance the appeal of a job that involves, at the best of times, limited freedom and frequent moves and, at worst, being killed. But with the exception of the army during the worst years in Iraq, the armed forces consistently meet or exceed their targets for recruitment and retention.

 The entire article is linked here.
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Written by gregip

May 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

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