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US military has new threat: Healthcare costs

NPR, June 7, 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that pension and healthcare costs are eating the U.S. military alive. And the Pentagon predicts that the cost of taking care of its troops and retirees will keep growing. Retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro gets a lot of hate mail, because he's talking about something a whole lot of people don't want to hear about: the rising costs of military health and pension benefits. "We in the Department of Defense are on the same path that General Motors found itself on," he says. Punaro, a former Marine, is a member of the Defense Business Board, a group that advises the Pentagon on its financial operations. "General Motors did not start out to be a healthcare company that occasionally built an automobile," he says. "Today, we're on the path in the Department of Defense to turn it into a benefits company that may occasionally kill a terrorist."