Shutting down all U.S. military commissaries is the only way for the system to operate without any cost to taxpayers, according to a new Defense Department report — a move officials say they don’t want to do.

“We have concluded that budget neutrality could not be reached through store closures unless the commissary system is shut down completely,” states the report on cost savings at the Defense Commissary Agency.

The study was ordered by Congress last year and released this week.

“The Department determined that such changes would undermine the commissary benefit and reduce exchange system patronage, significantly diminishing resale benefits to service members, retirees, their families and the military services,” Peter Levin, acting undersecretary of defense for defense personnel and readiness, wrote in a letter to lawmakers submitted with the report.

“As a result, the Department has rejected these alternatives,” he wrote.

What the agency and the exchanges can do without impacting the military’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation funds or customer service is reduce their reliance on federal funding by about $2 billion over five years, or about $300 million per year starting in 2019, the report states.


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