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2.5-million defense jobs could be lost

Published Oct. 10, 2005

With the end of the Cold War, America could lose more than a third of its 6-million defense-related jobs within a decade, congressional researchers reported Friday.

Military spending could sink to its lowest level in 40 years, resulting in the loss of about 250,000 defense jobs every year until 2001, said the Office of Technology Assessment, a non-partisan research arm of Congress. The report said the cutbacks would save an average of $12-billion a year. It outlined options for spending and investing the money.

In all, 2.5-million jobs would be lost in the armed forces here and abroad, from the civilian ranks of the military and in defense industries, the report said.

However, the national economic impact may not be as dramatic as the numbers imply, said the report, "After the Cold War: Living With Lower Defense Spending."

The job loss over a decade represents only about 2 percent of the nation's total work force of 118.4-million in 1991. In perspective, the economic loss could be less than after the Vietnam War, when about 3.2-million jobs were lost over eight years and the economy was smaller, the report said.

Each lost defense job does not necessarily leave an unemployed worker, the report said. The armed services expect that attrition will account for 75 percent of their down-sizing, and some civilian defense workers likewise may retire early.

Still, the impact could be severe in some states _ including Georgia, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Arizona and Colorado _ where the defense industry accounts for a sizeable part of the economy.

The report suggests investing the $12-billion "peace dividend" in federal programs ranging from retraining of displaced defense workers to helping defense contractors convert to commercial production.

Aspin calls for cutting up to 400,000 troops: The House Armed Services Committee chairman is calling for reducing U.S. troop levels by as many as 400,000 people, sources said Friday.

In a meeting with committee Democrats on Thursday, Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis., presented four options for reducing the budget, with cuts ranging from $38-billion to $231-billion over the five-year period beginning in fiscal 1993.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said Aspin is urging his colleagues to accept a plan that would reduce defense spending by $114-billion with a fiscal 1997 defense budget of $270-billion.

Under his plan, active-duty troop strength would be reduced by 217,000 from Defense Secretary Dick Cheney's total base force proposal of 1.6-million, the sources said.

In comparison, Bush has called for trimming defense by some $50-billion over the next five years.

The National Guard and reserve positions of 920,000 that Cheney has forecast would be cut by 16,000.

The Pentagon's plan calls for reducing the armed forces by 25 percent with an eventual goal in five years of 12 active duty Army divisions, 15 active Air Force wings and 450 ships.

Under the plan Aspin is advocating, the Army divisions would drop to nine, the Air Force wings to 10 and the Navy would be left with 340 ships, the sources said.