The main reason for the increase isn't the number of active duty officers — which remained about the same over the past decade — but skyrocketing personnel costs, mainly incentives to keep service members from quitting during wartime. Congress added pay raises for troops every year and the Pentagon keeps paying more for health care and pensions.
"So as a result, the cost per person in the military increased by 46 percent in real terms over the past decade," Harrison says.
So, if all the savings can't come from ending the wars or cutting weapons purchases, where are the savings? Harrison points to the issue that inflated the defense budget in the first place: personnel.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said military health care premiums could go up and salaries may get scaled back.
"War funding is projected to drop to $118 billion in [fiscal year 2012] and it will continue dropping in [fiscal year 2013] and beyond," Harrison says. "So in reality, we're not going to spend $1.6 trillion on the wars over the next decade. We're more likely to spend $300 billion or $400 billion."
When people say war funding is an area in which savings can be expected, Harrison says, laughing, it's "a gimmick because it's not real savings."