Monday, February 24, 2014

Obama Administration To Shrink Military Back To Pre WWII Levels

Pravda-on-the-Hudson has leaked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposals to downsize our military to pre WWII levels.

The Army is going to be cut to between 440,000 and 450,000, as opposed to a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. A lot of the troops we're getting rid of include battle hardened and experienced officers, NCO's and enlisted men whom served in AfPak and Iraq...not to mention experienced and successful commanders like General Stan McCrystal and the Marine Corps' General Mattis, who have already been forced into early retirement for political reasons.

Our entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, one of the best anti-tank planes in the world are going to be eliminated while more money is going to be spent on what the Times calls 'the controversial F-35 warplane'. It's controversial, all right.

The Navy will be limited to adding two destroyers and two attack submarines every year, but will have to give up 11 heavy and light cruisers, which will go into what's called 'reduced operating status'. That simply isn't enough to maintain America's naval superiority on the world's oceans.

The Navy managed to save all 11 of its aircraft carriers for now, but some of them are approaching mid life and we're not going to be building any new ones. The USS George Washington is going to be overhauled and will get a nuclear refueling, but there's no guarantee for any of the others, especially if the defense budget continues to shrink under the Obama Administration as it likely will.

In an effort to discourage retention and new enlistment, pay and benefits are being cut markedly. Pay for officers is to be frozen, while enlisted men will get a single 1% pay raise before their pay is frozen as well. At the same time, a lot of the perks and subsidies that make military life affordable at the current rate of pay are being eliminated or severely cut back. Tax-free housing allowances for military personnel are going to be sharply reduced, and so is the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, so groceries and other goods at the PX are going to be a lot more expensive.

Health insurance deductibles and some co-pays will increase for some military retirees and for family members of active duty servicemen, and new enlistees will see even higher rates for these items. This is on top of the screwing our active military already took on their retirement benefits and COLAS.

Aside from the F-35, the areas where the defense budget isn't shrinking? Cyberwarfare, special ops and drones, of course.

What's going on here is pretty easy to figure out, and I said it back when Hagel was first confirmed as SecDef - the idea is to sharply reduce our military capabilities, eliminate our military's ability to fight a two front war, and to use the 'savings' for the president domestic agenda. Instead of jobs for engineers machinists, scientists, assemblers that actually create growth, and instead of providing training in various fields for our military, we'll just hand out more food stamps and welfare checks. Instead of national defense, more green energy scams and more trillion dollar stimulus programs,

And of course, most of Pravda-on-the Hudson's reader thoroughly approve:

From Binghampton,NY

The size of the army is not the problem; the size of the Pentagon budget is. Replacing soldiers with gold-plated weapons systems is not the answer; demilitarizing the US economy is. The country needs a multi-year plan to cut defense spending in half without sending the economy into a tailspin. Each year 10% of the Pentagon's budget should be transferred to a new agency charged with rebuilding the country's infrastructure. In five years when half of today's trillion dollar military spending has been moved to civilian use, that new agency be phased out by cutting its budget 10% per year. In a decade, the US would finally have a peace-time economy for the first time since 1941.

From St. Louis:

It's high time that Americans have a conversation about our national values. Are we a country constantly at war, using the military as our #1 jobs program? Or are we a nation of peace, where we invest our resources and young people in more productive ways?

Given the long-term effects of war on our citizens, and the cost of caring for disabled veterans like my own father, it just seems obvious that we should scale back the military to pay for things like infrastructure, cleaner energy, job training and education. Let's hope Congress agrees.

And from San Francisco

Not only do we currently spend roughly the same annually on our military than the rest of the world combined, we currently spend ~4x more than the second place spender, China. Even if we scale back adventurous aircraft projects (that can likely easily be replaced by simple unmanned drones), other countries have a long way to go before catching up with us. The parallels drawn in the comments to WWI are unwarranted; we are not going to quickly be overtaken by any other country's military. Were another nation state to begin to turn into a threat we could also still adapt and increase spending. This is a fantastic decision to help balance our budget, and certainly wiser than cutting all known domestic aid programs...

As others have mentioned, the days of nation-against-nation combat are over. Outmoded cold-war-sized armies do no good against terrorists in bunkers. The time is right for intelligent trimming of the military.

Every one of these comments could be datelined 1938 and would fit in quite well.

This is quite a gamble to take, given what's going on with Iran, the PLA's increasing strength and a resurgent Russia,but that is after all what America voted for. Hey,what could go wrong?


UCSPanther said...

If Obama abolishes the US military, he may as well just sign North America over to either the Russians or the Chinese.

It is time for Canada to start developing our military to at least protect North America in that case...

B.Poster said...

When I read about this I very mixed feelings. First the positives. 1.)It is clear that the US needs to scale back on its military spending and its commitments. We're simply incapable of fulfilling these and to place such a burden on one country is unreasonable and unacceptable whether it be our own government or foreign governments who expect this. Maybe, just maybe someone in a position of authority finally understands this. The current level of commitments undermines our own national security. The current situation cannot be sustained. Maybe this is finally being understood by decision makers and they are acting accordingly. 2.)The US clearly needs to upgrade it's aging and, in many case, dilapidated infrastructure. This should free up some funds to do this. 3.)The US needs to invest heavily in training its citizens in the types of fields you mention. Currently there is a shortage of these necessary fields and even the people who can train them. This will be a massive undertaking. If we are not tied up in military commitments we can't keep, this would be extremely helpful as precious resources could be devoted to this. 3.)America's massive national debt is massive and these cuts to defense spending should help us avoid bankruptcy if its not already to late.

Now for the negatives. 1.)It appears that while the cuts are clearly necessary it seems to be being done without any clear cut strategy other than political considerations. 2.)Given the track record of this government, I'm skeptical that the necessary investments in infrastructure or training of our personnel for the areas we need will actually materialize. As you point out, it seems more likely any savings will be used simply to hand out more food stamps and other programs such as this. 3.)The cuts seem to be primarily adversely impacting tried and true weapons and weapons systems and battle experienced combat personnel. Those programs of dubious value and those personnel whose positions that don't contribute to combat readiness seem less affected.

If the focus is on how we can make our armed forces more effective at defending America, then this can be a good thing. After all its no necessarily how much money is spent that matters. What matters is how effectively it is spent. For example, the USA spends more on public education than most nations yet our education lags behind most of the developed world. Additionally, by the numbers that are reported, Russia and China spend significantly less on military spending than the US does yet Russia and China have bested us in virtually every direct or indirect confrontation in the 21st century and have gained significant influence while we have lost significant influence. It's not necessarily how much money is spent. What matters most is how wisely it is spent.

"It is time for Canada to start developing our military to at least protect North America in that case..." That's very interesting UCSPanther. I've been trying to think of ways for awhile now on how our nation could move forward. My thoughts have been to look at and study closely how Canada and Australia go about national defense and try to implement what they are doing as much as possible. Canada and Australia seem to spend only a fraction of what the US spends on defense yet Canada and Australia are more secure than America, they are more respected than America is, and their economies generally seem to be doing better than America's offering their people a higher standard of living and more opportunities for advancement than are generally available for the average American. I'd think the US would be much better off trying to imitate what Canada is doing rather than vice versa.

Nevertheless, if you feel your military is inadequate, I would suggest developing a robust nuclear deterrent. I suspect Canada has the technical expertise to develop this relatively quickly. It also has the advantage of being less expensive than other alternatives.

Rob said...

Poster, unfortunately you miss the big picture.

This is a political budget, not a military or national security budget. It cuts muscle and retains fat, like the F-35 to reward well connected defense contractors.

This means gradually giving up our naval superiority and our ability to defend the Western Pacific, our redoubt. It makes NATO, SEATO and our other security arrangements with allies meaningless. It makes retention of experienced troops ridiculously difficult, and places those who remain in the position of playing catchup if anything happens.

The 460,000 soldiers they're talking about is a misleading number, because it includes the technical and support personnel who make up a modern combat brigade.very different than in 1940. With those numbers, we're talking about perhaps 150,000-200,000 actual combat troops,tops.

Tony Blair did exactly the same thing to the UK, including essentially scuttling the Royal Navy.

There is no upside to this.

B.Poster said...


Thanks for the reply. Very respectfully I don't think I'm missing the big picture at all. I think it is you who is missing the big picture.

With that said I think we are at least in partial agreement. It does appear that much "fat" is retained. I think I address this in point three of the cons to what seems to be the proposed policy.

As for NATO and SEATO we are incapable of maintaining all of these commitments. They are undermining our own national security. It is unreasonable and impossible to expect the USA to carry such a burden. It's time for "allies" to step up. The forces stationed in these regions have been a source of contention between us and these countries for a long time, at least with the nationals of these countries. As they are redeployed, this should help with our relations with these countries that should engender more cooperation and perhaps even genuine alliances.

As for the Western Pacific being our strategic redoubt, this is incorrect. Our strategic redoubt is our portion of the North American continent. If General McArthur were alive today, I'm sure he'd agree.

As for the troop numbers, the numbers you mention seem low to defend a nation as vast as the USA, however, our main threats are as follows: 1.)a massive nuclear attack by Russia, 2.)an Islamic terrorist attack involving the use of dirty bombs and perhaps suitcase nuclear weapons, and 3.)an invasion of the US mainland by Russia, China, and possibly the BRICS.

To handle the two biggest threats the current force structure is not needed. As stated previously it cannot be maintained. Additionally, if it is improperly deployed, it would be unable to deal properly with threat 3.

In summary, strive to be more like Canada or Australia. They don't have all of these binding obligations that are beyond their ability to keep yet they are more secure than the USA, are well respected around the world, and have more robust economies with more opportunities for their citizens than the USA currently has.

In summary the cuts need to happen. We simply don't have a choice. The execution and having a proper strategy for our national defense will be paramount. Unfortunately given this government's track record it is hard to be optimistic.

As for strategic thinking, the Russians and the Chinese have bested us in every direct and indirect confrontation in the 21st century yet by the numbers that are reported they spend significantly less on their militaries than the US does. It's not necessarily how much is spent but how wisely the money is spent. We clearly need to improve in this regard.

B.Poser said...

Prudent policy makers might ask themselves what can be done to assist countries such as South Korea and Japan just to name a couple of nations as we redeploy our forces away from these regions and to areas that make sense for our national security needs. Perhaps we need to do nothing. I do think they would be happy to see us leave their homelands. Having them there is certainly unhelpful for our relations with these countries.

With that said if they've really come to rely on us that much, I can only imagine how much resentment such a situation must foster. How much time would they need to be able to meet their defense needs without us. Given our current situation, hopefully they can do this sooner rather later. Helping them in this regard and LEAVING would be hugely beneficial.

Doing this would hugely benefit our national security and might even lead to a situation where he have some truly reliable allies that we might actually be able to rely upon. This is certainly better than the current situation even if could be sustained which it cannot be.

B.Poster said...

According to the website globalfirepower Canada and Australia have about 70,000 and 60,000 frontline troops respectively. If this works for their national defense needs and it seems to, then 200,000 should be adequate for us if they are used properly. Our leaders would do well to study the military postures of these countries and take steps to implement something similar here.

Rob said...

Let's gently look at what you consider to be,in your words, "our main threats".

Nuclear attack by Russia is unlikely because of mutually assured destruction.An 'Islamic terrorist attack involving the use of dirty bombs and perhaps suitcase nuclear weapons' is unlikely because they don't have them.Although if Iran goes nuclear, an EMP attack is a possibility that a reduced Navy just might not prevent. An invasion of the US mainland by Russia, China, and possibly the BRICS? Brazil, Russia,India and China are going to get together ins ppite of the issues they have with each other and invade us? Please.

Actually, your argument is torpedoed by your own previous statement that the Western Pacific isn't our strategic redoubt. With the reduction of our blue water navy and a reduction to 150,000 combat troops you're supporting, doesn't that make your Red Dawn fantasy more likely?

The truth is that the western Pacific provides a buffer zone that makes war and attack on our own shores a lot less likely. AND THAT'S THE IDEA.

The real threats, Poster are American loss of our ability to deploy power, which directly involves our blue water navy. Rather than these fantasy 'threats' of yours, the real ones involve our isolation and the ability of our enemies to strangle us, destroy our trade and bully us at will. THAT'S WHAT A STRONG MILITARY PREVENTS. Why destroy a country when you can blackmail it, control it and force it to do what you want? Look at the UK.

A strong military that prevents war is a lot cheaper than having to fight one because your enemies think you're weak.

And why would Canada,Japan or Australia or any of our allies be able to stand if we don't? Like us, they will have to bend to the whim of totalitarian barbarism.

I don't think you have any idea how many times the U.S has actually forced Russia and China to back off because of our superior military. Here's a short list: Berlin and most of Western Europe in the 1940's,India in the 1960's, Israel in 1967 and 1973, Grenada,Turkey, Iran in the 1950s,Guatemala, Chile, Eastern Europe in the 1990's...and there's a lot more I could name.

Millions of people are free because instead of relying on a few special forces units and some drones, or the overkill of nuclear weapons we had the ability to provide ships and boots on the ground where they were needed,and our enemies knew it.

You obviously want this to change in favor of fortress America. We saw how well that worked in the 1940's and if it happens again, we will have that lesson brought home to us once more in a very painful fashion.

No nation that has disarmed itself like this has ever found it beneficial, but convincing thick headed isolationists of that is always a problem, so we have to learn the lesson again and again.

Rob said...

Canada and Australia are able to stay at those numbers because of the U.S. military having their back so they can police specific areas...apparently you're unclear with how alliances work too.

Plus you're not counting their reserves.

I think we're done here.