Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney yesterday recommended to Congress canceling 68 military construction projects totaling $327.4 million.
Most of the projects were slated for U.S. bases overseas, but they also included a $40 million warehouse complex in Red River, Tex., a $2 million flight simulator in Arizona and $56,000 worth of fireplaces for senior officers' quarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
The proposed cuts, most of them funded in previous budget years, must be approved by Congress and would yield no saving in the 1991 budget, which takes effect Oct. 1, according to Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams.
The list was released one day after Cheney was criticized by Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, as doing too little to cut into the Pentagon's overhead accounts.
Cheney this week outlined a plan that would cut military "force structure" 25 percent by 1995, but would achieve only a 10 percent real reduction in defense spending for the same period. Aspin has been seeking justification and political support in Congress for dollar cuts in defense more than two times greater than Cheney has proposed.
In releasing the list of recommended cancellations, most of them in West Germany, Britain and Guam, Cheney said, "Changes in the world situation and increasing constraints on resources available for the national defense have caused the Department of Defense to examine the cost and size of its infrastructure."
The 68 projects were drawn from a larger list of military construction projects that Cheney in January said he was reassessing for possible cancellation. Military construction remains frozen until Nov. 15. Also in January, Cheney sent Congress a list of more than 60 bases he would like either to close or consolidate.
"Don't assume that this whole process is just yielding $327 million in cuts," Williams told Pentagon reporters yesterday. "This is just the beginning of it."