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Obama’s ‘Strategic Guidance’ Calls for More Defense Gutting

McKeon: "With no assessment of strategic impact, the president has proposed yet another arbitrary cut of $120 billion from the military."

Bridget Johnson


April 10, 2013 - 8:26 pm

The weakening of the Defense Department’s readiness continued today as President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposed whacking billions more from a military force already reeling from $500 billion in sequestration cuts.

Undersecretary of Defense Bob Hale, comptroller, told reporters at the Pentagon today that the changes already in effect for this year since mandatory cuts went into effect “are going to have significant and adverse effects, particularly on military readiness.”

“Some programs are exempt or protected. The military personnel funding exempt by law, embarrassingly so, are Senate-confirmed political appointees,” Hale said. “By policy, we’ll exempt Afghan wartime operations, our wounded warrior programs, and some others. And we will protect — that is, to the extent we can — we’ll avoid cuts in some of our deployed forces, especially first-to-fight forces in Korea and other deployed forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in critical theaters — we don’t want to blind ourselves — and in general we want to make clear to our potential adversaries that even though we’re having some budgetary problems, we are still there, and we will protect the United States and its allies.”

“Most of the rest of the programs are going to get cut, sometimes by a lot… We’ll have to make major cutbacks in training and maintenance.”

Congress has been notified about the beginning of the civilian furlough process, and the TRICARE military health program has “some special problems.”

The Air Force will stand down 12 combat-coded fighter and bomber squadrons. The Army has already had to cancel seven combat training center rotations and five brigade-level exercises. Over the last week, the Navy canceled five sailings, including the cruising of the USNS Comfort to SOUTHCOM. Both the Navy and Marine Corps have cut flying hours.

“When you add all this up, to be very candid, what we’ve had to do, beginning a few months ago, is to start to burn readiness, as the chairman mentioned,” Hale said. “We’re not adding readiness or maintaining readiness. We’re burning readiness.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, though, defended his boss’ “strategic guidance” as “sustaining the quality of the all-volunteer force.”

“We need to plan wisely for a long-term future of budget constraints, with thorough, clearheaded analysis that is anchored in the president’s defense strategic guidance,” Hagel said.

But it was noted to Hagel that his optimism was based on a budget plan that assumed Congress would pass Obama’s deficit reduction plan to replace sequestration and the Pentagon would get hit for $150 billion over the next decade instead of the current $500 billion. And, if by some remote chance the budget calling for $600 billion in new taxes would pass the House, it kicks the can on those defense cuts beyond the terms of Obama and Hagel.

“Unlike sequester, these cuts are backloaded, occurring mainly in the years beyond FY 2018. While no agency welcomes further budget cuts, the president’s deficit reduction proposal requested in this budget gives the department time, and that’s important, time, to achieve these longer-term savings, without disproportionate harm to modernization and readiness, the budget categories what will provide the most immediate savings, but also encompass most of our military capabilities,” Hagel said, brushing off assertions that it’s an Obama budget gimmick.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) had a far different view of the president’s strategic guidance abilities.

“Two months ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before my committee that our military could not absorb any additional cuts and continue to carry out the missions the country has assigned to them,” McKeon said. ”In the ensuing weeks the situation in Syria became more volatile, we are in a stand-off with North Korea, and we appear to be opening a North African front in the War on Terror.”

“In other words, we are already adding to what we have asked our military to do while the president cuts their resources. Now, with no assessment of strategic impact, the president has proposed yet another arbitrary cut of $120 billion from the military.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, said Obama’s budget “would add $8.2 trillion in new debt and will ultimately cause the country to spend more on interest payments than on national defense.”

“When it comes to his budget request for defense, the president failed to address the unprecedented resource challenges facing our military and failed to even acknowledge the mandatory cuts associated with sequestration,” Inhofe said. “It’s time this president finally confronts the true cause of our growing and unsustainable debt, which is his unsustainable growth in mandatory spending and unbridled domestic spending.”

“If we want America to remain the greatest nation on earth with a wealth of opportunities for future generations, we need to cut spending, balance the budget, and ensure a strong national defense.”

McKeon noted that both Congress and the White House have historically “proven to be poor judges of where and how we will have to fight to preserve our liberty.”

“What we can say with certainty is that the fight will come,” the chairman added. “By levying more cuts on the military, the president has decided that a future generation of Americans won’t have what they need on that day.”

When asked about one of those future potential fights today, Hagel showed a clear preference for wanting to stay on the topic of Obama’s budget numbers. Japanese officials warned local media today that North Korea was making preparatory moves for a ballistic missile test at any time.

“This country, the United States of America, our allies, United Nations, has been very clear that North Korea has been, with its bellicose rhetoric, with its actions, have been skating very close to a dangerous line. Their actions and their words have not helped defuse a combustible situation,” Hagel echoed the administration refrain.

“The proximity of the North Koreans to achieving a miniaturization of a nuclear device on a ballistic missile is really a matter of — is a classified matter,” added Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. “But they have conducted two nuclear tests. They have conducted several successful ballistic missile launches. And in the absence of concrete evidence to the contrary, we have to assume the worst case, and that’s why we’re postured as we are today.”

When pressed on whether Americans should be considered about a looming war, the new Defense secretary got a bit flippant.

“[Kim Jong-un] doesn’t check with me on his decisions or how he’s feeling each day, the leader. I don’t know if he does with the chairman,” Hagel said. “The reality is that he is unpredictable. That country is unpredictable.”

“As far as knowing what the Kim Jong-un is about, you know, we’re having a press conference today about the Defense Department absorbing hundreds of billions of dollars in reductions for the good of the American people so that the United States of America can get back on a more solid economic foundation,” Dempsey said. “And what is Kim Jong-un doing? He’s starving his people with a military first policy. It’s pretty hard for us to figure that out.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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originalfool - Actually I touched on the excessive contrator inflation rate for DOD goods and services. Creating-legislating additonal paperwork is the silent justification for increased manpower. There is no such thing as adding cost to efficiently managing and enforcing contract efficiency and cost savings! Such a concept is simply a myth! For a long time contract corruption is built into legislation and authroizations by congress and those responsible for enforcement are hogtied and bound to do their jobs. With a few years at trhe right levels of experience you would have a very clear picture of reality. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

You may be missing a major point here: We are looking at major military spending cuts even though Obama's proposed budget is HUGE. If we are cutting many billions from defense spending, then why do we have (from Obama) a $3.77 trillion dollar federal budget?

The country is weakened by an increased budget that is way more than can possibly be balanced by revenues, and yet we also intend to weaken the military? And believe me, I know how the feds handle budget cuts: because they spend lots of money badly, they will also spend less money badly. Therefore, while some posters here may have some "clever" ideas on how to have great defense for less, the proposed big cuts WILL WEAKEN our military -- that is guaranteed.

So: an economy-sapping budget with big defense cuts. Not a recipe for improved national security and well-being.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe consider that ALL our adversaries historically spend far less per GDP than does the U.S. Now if you sit down and correlate that to real dollars your head will fall off! Next, sit down and take a good look at how much DOD funding is actually spent directly on troops and troop readiness, equipment and equipment maintenance and get ready to catch your head again.

The greatest costs are now benefits of military personnel and far, far to many civilian personnel. Next comes equipment procurement followed closely by R&D that is grossly corrupted and excessively inflated and far, far to futuristic and non feasible for general warfare. Also, the new non career family oriented military has proven extemely costly to both the military, federal welfare programs and the communities in which there is military presence. A great example is the hundreds of billions spend on R&D and procurement for equipment specific to Iraq and Iran terrain and warfare. tactics. How do you effectively use all that specific equipment in say, North Korea in the midst of winter or any other more conventioanl warfare tactics. What do you do with essentially all equipment and support platforms designed around computer and satelite operations when major adversaries have platform capabilities to take out large control networks in a heartbeat -- just as we ourselves have?

Smarter budgeting, smarter planning and smarter spending will easily allow for major cuts to DOD!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The following Defense Spending, and Federal Revenue, numbers, are from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), end-of-fiscal year, monthly reports other sources, which reflect considerably higher Defense Spending numbers, may include some portion of Military Spending

Defense Spending .vs Total Federal Revenues (TREV) = % of Revenues trillions.....
YEAR.DEFENSE/TREV = % of Revenues
FY1998 0.256 / 1.721 = 14.9%
FY1999 0.261 / 1.827 = 14.3%
FY2000 0.281 / 2.025 = 13.9%
FY2001 0.291 / 1.990 = 14.6%
FY2002 0.332 / 1.853 = 17.9%
FY2003 0.389 / 1.783 = 21.8%
FY2004 0.437 / 1.880 = 23.2%
FY2005 0.474 / 2.154 = 22.0%
FY2006 0.499 / 2.407 = 20.7%
FY2007 0.529 / 2.568 = 20.6%
FY2008 0.595 / 2.524 = 23.6%
FY2009 0.637 / 2.105 = 30.3%
FY2010 0.677 / 2.162 = 31.3%
FY2011 0.678 / 2.302 = 29.5%
FY2012 0.651 / 2.449 = 26.6%

The U.S. spends more on Defense Spending than the next 14 countries COMBINED
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
World's top 15 military spenders
Figures sourced from the SIPRI Yearbook 2012.
Rank Country Spending ($ Bn.)
— World Total 1,630 2.6 100 1562.3
1. United States ....711.
2. China...............228
3. Russia...............93.7
4. United Kingdom..57.5
5. France...............50.1
6. Japan................44.7
7. Saudi Arabia.......58.8
8. India.................117.
9. Germany ...........40.4
10. Brazil..............33.8
11. Italy................28.5
12. South Korea.....42.1
13. Australia..........16.6
14. Canada...........19.9
15. Turkey...........25.2
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
President Eisenhower warned us about THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
still 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, along with over 100,000 high-paid, good old boy, no-bid, military contractors ... the Pentagon is the Poster-Boy for fraud waste and abuse in government
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm so happy there are some that can present the fact in such better ways than I can thses days. Thanks!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, we want our military to be seen as strong and vigorous, but we are not going to train our troops nor maintain our equipment?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's evident the libertarian mindset is taking hold in the comment section, but that is understandable when we have weak governance; this allows all kinds of foolishness to present itself. Certainly, there are cuts that can be made, but to a person, the readers here are missing the point... general officer corps is being decimated under Obama (not to mention appointments are putting useful idiots in key positions), Hagel is a mindless dunce and the purpose of these current shortfalls in spending is to render our military useless or better, nearly "defenseless." I suspect there are many posting here who have no real sense of what a volunteer force means, what its junior members experience or how small in number our forces really are, considering actual warfighting capability vs. support. It's time Americans start paying attention to truth (look at history) rather than their fictionalized views of what they wish to believe to appear intelligent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your assertions are purely bunk! Routinely, the congress has cut the general ranks allocations only to have them increase. Only in the past week did the Army finalize and release its implementation policies for dump 7,000 O-grades through O-6. In the past year alone more than 50 O's have been 'fired' from the Army. The 'O' Corps has historicall post WWII been bloated and everytime theres a conflict it gets grossly bloated.

Maybe take a good look at the most factual information posted by forumsforjustice above and get educated on how we're decimating our military. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I probably don't know as much about our military as you do since I only served for 34 years all active except for 8 years and as a Marine mustang if you know what that means. So I will cease and defer to your greater knowledge and experience.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"the general officer corps..."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course there are plenty of places we can cut Military spending, they are an all volunteer forces after all. Since when do you pay volunteers? Just think how much we could save if we just didn't pay the volunteers! That would leave us plenty of money to pay all the civilian contractors their union wages. We wouldn't want to cut back on those, we might get the unions mad at us. And of course the contractors can't help it if they happened to underbid on the equipment they are supplying and have to charge millions of dollars in cost overruns, they have to pay all those extra union workers and upper management personnel they had to hire to get the stuff built.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Since when do you pay volunteers?"

LOL! Ironically, when I enlisted in the Marine Corps I was payed $87.00 per month. Adjusted for inflation (2013) that equals $673.20 today. Today, (2013) the same Marine is payed $1,516.20 plus other monetary benefits. Would you believe this ole farm kid saved $50 a month out of the $87.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We need to defund the DOD and decrease the size of the military. The military is run by our totally corrupt ruling class which can not be trusted with a strong military force.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, there is a lot to cut in the DoD. Way too many generals and admirals; in fact more per capita than during the Cold War. Still too much waste and overspending. Does a F-22 really cost over $150 million? In my case, I work as a contractor for the DoD and there are 3 levels of management above me at just the base level; there are at least 2 more levels above that at AFMC and Washington. Huge amounts of overstaffing, overregulation, and rules all combine to make everything cost more than it should.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe we should you know, stop being the world's policeman? We can't afford it.

Why are we still in Afghanistan? Our "allies" are just as bad as the Taliban. Our "allies" in Pakistan hid Bin Laden from us, and are still holding that doctor that helped us find him.

Why are we in South Korea? We're hated there. S. Korea is a rich country now, let them defend themselves.

And while we are at it, let's quite throwing money down the drain with the F35, which is complete junk.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Having been stationed in South Korea twice, I can tell you we are not hated there. The people you see on TV with signs are a distinct minority and only get on TV because of liberal bias.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
LOL! Yes sir! They do have their professional anti-everything corps that can sniff a camera from 20 miles away and know precisely when every dignitary is ariving at what point they're going too, to get camera and media time. And yes, the overwhelming majority do love our troops and the older they are, the more they love us. My grandson returned from his second tour in Seoul four months ago and each time the same little old lady rented him her $8K appartment for $3K and mothered him to death. "She" would always call us once a month to report on how well he was doing and that she was taking good care of him. Of course, he tried to spoil her to but she would have no part of that! :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We should have S. America, the Philippines, Europe and Indonesia ante up the difference. They're the ones who benefit from not having China and Russia and each other up their behinds. Put a price tag on the evil imperialist Pax Americana and watch how suddenly other countries can't live without it. Or we could just sell them and pocket the change. When the Middle East runs out of oil won't be no Americans rescuing Kuwait from Iraq or S. Arabia from Iran. Have fun boys. Liberals got themselves a suicide cult and the first victims will of course be those most vulnerable. And of course a new giant flood of refugees will be pouring into America in 50 years.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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