So where should the military be cut?
Pay and benefits? Pension?
I think there are a few areas that could be cut without affecting the fighting capability of the military:
1) Bureaucratic Overhead: In 2019 the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people — 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel — to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supported 1.3 million troops on active duty. This includes 192,000 workers just to handle the department’s “real property management.” I don't know the present numbers but I assume that haven't changed much. It has almost got to the point where each soldier has his own personal bureaucrat looking after him. I can't find it now but I once saw a statistic that the Defense Department had more Purchasing Agents than it did Marines.
2) Eliminate Empire Culture: I feel the Defense Department has a corruptive Empire Culture, the bigger my budget and the more staff I have, the more important I am. A 5% increase in the Procurement department will immediately trigger cries from the Contracts and Accounting Departments that they too need more staff. Similarly, all three departments will join ranks to resist any budget cuts to one department due to the potential knock on effects to the other two.
3) Stop the Corporate Welfare Programmes: The Alternative Engine for the F-35 is a classic example. For 13 years Pratt & Whitney sponsored Congressmen fought with General Electric sponsored Congressmen over whether the F-35 needed an alternative engine. Basically $2.5 billion was funnelled into GE to provide an engine that neither Lockheed or the Pentagon wanted. It finally died in 2012. Interestingly the Pentagon have stated that the Block 4 modifications will need increased power and thermal management capability from the F-35's propulsion system. This, coupled with some recent problems with the heat-protective coating on the P&W turbine rotor blades becoming worn out faster than was expected, has resulted in lobbying to re-start the Alternative Engine Programme. As somebody at the time said, "What's next? The Alternative Undercarriage? The Alternative Cockpit? The Alternative Avionics Suite?
4) Eliminate the "All Defense spending is good defense spending" culture: Unfortunately a segment of the US public has been manipulated to believe that the laying off of one accountant or one janitor or the consolidating of beret manufacturing to just one plant will result in the Chinese and Russians immediately invading and subduing the country in less than 48 hours. Cuts to the Defense budget is so taboo that I imagine most members of Congress would rather make eid al fitr a national holiday than cut the Defense Budget. There is a lot of unnecessary overhead and a lot of corporate welfare that could be eliminated. For every Alternative Engine programme, mentioned above, there are dozens of smaller ones all flying below the radar. Many of these are almost comical and would be immediately thrown out if they were proposed to a private corporation.
I know this reply is a bit of a rant but I've seen this stuff from the inside and it is depressing.