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GOP bill would cut civilian defense jobs, shift cash to military

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FILE: Nov. 11, 2008: US soldiers of Combined Security Transition Command salute during a Veterans Day ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Several House Republicans have introduced legislation that would reduce the civilian defense workforce by 15 percent in six years and use the savings from the cuts to boost military readiness and support active-duty personnel.

The Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees, or REDUCE, Act would cut nearly 115,000 jobs from the Defense Department, from the current 770,00-person workforce down to roughly 655,000, GovExec.com reported.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who introduced the legislation, said his proposal would require the Pentagon to make civilian workforce reductions in a "systematic manner" without compromising the nation's ability to maintain a strong national defense. 

“The growth of the civilian workforce within the DOD continues to create a significant budgetary burden but, more importantly, if left unchecked it will negatively impact our men and women in uniform,” Calvert said in a statement.  

“[Secretary of Defense Chuck] Hagel's recently announced military reduction plan trims the wrong side of the DOD. It would negatively impact our troops, compromise our national security, while failing to make the tough but necessary decisions needed to trim the civilian workforce at the DOD."

The proposal was met with immediate resistance from the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation's largest federal employee union, which says Calvert's bill would boost costs to taxpayers by increasing the Pentagon's overreliance on expensive contractors. 

“Rep. Ken Calvert of California claims to be a staunch supporter of the military and an advocate of reducing the nation’s debt, yet his bill would undermine DOD’s ability to perform its mission and drive up costs to untold levels,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. 

Calvert said the bill would save an estimated $82.5 billion over the first five years, which would stay within the department and be used to modernize weapons systems, maintain military readiness and support men and women in uniform.

“Many of our civilians at the Pentagon and around the world do a fine job but their growth is unsustainable.” Calvert said in a statement. "Our current and retired military leaders have widely acknowledged the need to establish a more efficient defense workforce in order to preserve our national security posture in the future."  

The REDUCE Act is co-sponsored by Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Kay Granger, R-Texas, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Todd Rokita, R-Ind..  

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.