Get PJ Media on your Apple

Pentagon Budget Cuts Army to Pre-WWII Strength Despite ‘More Volatile’ World

Hagel says plan follows Obama's drawdown and realignment aims for a "modern" force that's ready for one war at a time.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

February 24, 2014 - 6:28 pm

WASHINGTON — Stating that a postwar environment was the time to do some shrinking, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a budget proposal Monday that reduces the Army to pre-World War II levels despite “a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States.”

“Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities: first, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations; second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries; and, third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon today.

“Accordingly, our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force, putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries.”

For the Air Force, Hagel said, “an emphasis on capability over capacity meant that we protected its key modernization programs, including the new bomber, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the new refueling tanker.”

“To fund these investments, the Air Force will reduce the number of tactical air squadrons including the entire A-10 fleet,” Hagel continued. “…The Air Force will slow the growth in its arsenal of armed unmanned systems that, while effective against insurgents and terrorists, cannot operate in the face of enemy aircraft and modern air defenses. Instead of increasing to a force of 65 around-the-clock combat air patrols of Predator and Reaper aircraft, the Air Force will grow to 55, still a significant increase.”

In the Navy, the proposed funding is enough to maintain 11 carrier strike groups, but the USS George Washington aircraft carrier would be retired if sequestration-level cuts were to be reimposed.

“In order to help keep its ship inventory ready and modern under the president’s plan, half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet — or 11 ships — will be laid up and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan. This approach enables us over the long term to sustain and modernize our fleet of cruisers, which are the most capable ships for controlling the air defense of a carrier strike group,” Hagel said.

The Marines would be reduced in strength from about 190,000 to 182,000, with the assignment of “about 900 more Marines to provide enhanced embassy security around the world.”

The reductions in the Army go beyond the service’s planned cuts — from 520,000 to 490,000 — with a drawdown to fewer than 450,000 soldiers.

“While this smaller capacity entails some added risk even if we execute extended or simultaneous ground operations, our analysis showed that this force would be capable of decisively defeating aggression in one major combat theater — as it must be — while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater against an adversary,” Hagel said.

The National Guard and Reserves combined stand to lose about 30,000 soldiers. Realignment measures would include sending the Guard’s Apache helicopters to active-duty units and letting the Guard have the Army’s Blackhawks to “bolster the Guard’s needed capabilities in areas like disaster relief and emergency response.”

A senior military official said on background that the budget wasn’t just about President Obama’s rebalancing toward the Pacific, but “it involves rebalancing in nearly everything that we do.”

“As you know, recently we’ve been mostly focused on a single type of war, and we need to restore our readiness for the full spectrum of potential conflict,” the official said, stressing “that nobody’s take-home pay is going to go down under this plan, and that we are not closing commissaries.”

“We’re going to need some help from our elected representatives to get this budget across the finish line, because changes in force structure and infrastructure and institutional reform can be unpleasant and unpopular, and we know that.”

“Obviously, the run-up in World War II was quite substantial because we were fighting a two-pronged world war, and then obviously there was a huge increase in forces during Vietnam,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at today’s briefing. “…Obviously, we are in, as the President spoke at length about at National Defense University, in a different footing — on a different footing, and we were transitioning away from the permanent war footing that we experienced in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

“Obviously, that doesn’t lessen the fact that we have to maintain extreme vigilance — and we do — when it comes to the threats against our nation,” Carney added. “And we have to deploy a strategy that is responsive to those threats and anticipates the kinds of conflicts that we are most likely to see in the future.”

As Hagel was delivering his remarks at the Pentagon, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) was pointing out at the National Press Club that the administration is in denial about the war still being fought in Afghanistan, and the risks of throwing the country “to the wolves.”

“At whitehouse.gov/iraq, you will get an interactive timeline praising the end of the Iraq War. They eagerly take credit for leaving Iraq. You can ask the Iraqis how that has been going for them,” McKeon noted. “In startling contrast, there is nothing special or even prominent about what our troops have achieved in Afghanistan, what president once referred to as ‘the good war.’ Go to whitehouse.gov/Afghanistan, and you will find a photo of the presidential seal hanging on a vacant podium. It reads: ‘Sorry, the page you’re looking for can’t be found.’ Even the White House blog on their Afghan/Pakistan strategy hasn’t been updated in a blue moon.”

“Does the White House really think they can pretend a war is not happening? At the beginning of the Obama presidency, less than 30 percent of Americans thought the Afghanistan war was a mistake. Just last week, and for the first time ever, Gallup found a majority of Americans now believe the war was in error. Counterinsurgencies have two fronts, the one out there, and the one right here. The troops have held their line out there, the president has not held the line here. By letting the public support for the war erode, the president has cost himself political capital that could have been used to solve a number of points.”

On the Hill, another member of McKeon’s committee said he has “serious concerns about where the administration is placing its priorities when it comes to our nation’s national security.”

“We can continue to cut away at discretionary spending and force the Defense Department to bear the brunt of those cuts, or we can get serious and start addressing the real drivers of our debt,” House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said. “…History shows the importance of reset after years of war; we cannot forget the lessons learned after previous conflicts and we must strike a balance to maintain a ready and capable fighting force across the branches of service. Unfortunately, we continue to hear about cuts that negatively impact the overall manning, training, and equipping of our force.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said “reducing the size of the Army to its lowest levels in 70 years does not accurately reflect the current security environment, in which the administration’s own officials have noted the threats facing our country are more diffuse than ever.”

“Cutting key Air Force and naval capabilities just as we are trying to increase our presence in the Pacific does not make strategic sense. I am concerned that we are on a path to repeat the mistakes we’ve made during past attempts to cash in on expected peace dividends that never materialized,” Rubio added. ”Mistakes that caused our allies to question America’s staying power and encouraged our enemies to test us.”

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.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
To lose one war at a time is all we can stomach.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Did Hagel get this from Rummy. I have memories of Rumsfeld telling us how we didn't need all the forces because our technological superiority was sufficient to win with. That's not necessarily true. We usually start a war with some new ideas to try, but it doesn't take the opposition long to come up with some counter-strategies that become problematic until we get cranking and really develop some new technologies.

I suspect the final troop levels in all services will end up above the proposed levels. Besides, it's time to make some reductions, although it will cause economic distress. Hopefully, by the time it all comes to be, the economy will be strong enough to handle the change.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmmm, could Barry and Hagel read the preamble to the Constitution?
I don't believe either of them have read it although they both
took an oath to uphold it.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coming headline: "US pulls out of US".
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see this as a roundabout way to purge the junior officers and senior non-coms---the backbone of any army. Further, it will throw these men and women into a deteriorated labour market. The savings will go for the dole, the cronies, and the inevitable skim. it will not go to reinforce the VA system or any other useful purpose.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
While this admin is cutting the armed services to the bone they have been hastily adding to the national police force a quickly as they can. Why? Because many of you have guns and a propensity to keep the country you and I grew up in. They are more afraid of We The People than they are of militant islamics.

The thinking of the elites is the US Army might not follow the orders to shoot We The People should things get 'serious' - but DHS troops probably will have no such compunction as long as they are trained to see the world as 'we' vs 'them'. 'Them being We The People. Don't think it can't come to that!

One need look no further than how many millions of rounds of ammo DHS has or will be purchasing in the next few years to understand how afraid of us they are.

http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=millions+of+rounds+of+ammo+DHS&ei=UTF-8&fr=moz35

Be afraid of your government - and be ready!



33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't worry, Bridget. We'll have more robots than anybody.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
ALL, do not focus on what they are going to do, cutting 20%, focus on what they propose to fill the void. They will cut military leadership that is not fully indoctrinated and PC. They will deep select their chosen ones, and open the enlisted ranks to be more PC/social justice so they can increase the military welfare system. Patton is rolling in his grave. BTW Army has needed to be brought into the 21 century and has not seen the writing on the wall to transform. BBTW, the low "Military pay " argument is a weak. They volunteer in they volunteer out. Pay and benefits are well defined and the AD are very well compensated with Benefits/Pay. Its about spending/life style. Been there done it.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Weakness is not deterrence. The US plays this game after every war: gutting its military which comes third rate and then everyone acts surprised when another war breaks out.

The military is too small to have been conducting the Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops and equipment are run ragged with multiple deployments without proper rest and retraining cycles. If another major incident had broken out, the US could have done nothing about it because there was nothing left to send.

The military is NOT at the technical pinnacle except maybe in drones. The F35 fighter is a bad joke: super expensive and not as good as other planes currently flying. The F22 isn't much better being too expensive to buy in numbers enough to make a difference or to risk losing them in combat. The Navy is completely vulnerable to even old Russian Hypersonic Anti-Ship Missiles let alone China's new ballistic missile, assuming it works as advertized, and submarines have regularly breached Navy defenses and could have attacked the carriers.

No, the military is already in bad shape. Gutting it more will only make things worse as experienced NCO's and officers leave in search of better pay and living conditions for their families. That will leave behind the bad officers and NCOs and take away experience and know how exactly as has happened each time in the past. It will be very hard to build up again faced with such losses.

Perhaps though the idea is less to use the military against foreign enemies and more domestic ones? Smaller numbers of political loyalists could handle that. Perhaps they want more drones and robots, cheaper maybe but not as effective and totally vulnerable to hackers and will be a major show of weakness.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The US plays this game after every war: gutting its military which comes third rate and then everyone acts surprised when another war breaks out."

It's our national tradition. Nothing you can do about it. A huge standing military is simply unsustainable.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not necessarily. It is a matter of priorities. Without the massive social spending politicians love, it would be possible to maintain a military of sufficient size and skill to be a deterrent. The old 1990's two theater military would be sufficient and easily sustainable without the giant welfare state.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
" A huge standing military is simply unsustainable."

By that standard then we must expect the entire federal monstrosity to experience dramatic expenditure cuts. I am sure that will soon follow. Right?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Every time Chuckie Hagel appears in public he looks and sounds more and more like Elmer Fudd. No doubt he will protect us all from that wascally wabbit.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
As long as Hagel and his boss are in charge, whatever armed forces we still have will be misused and abused. Any of the brass who are inclined to speak out are gone or will be gone.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All

One Trackback to “Pentagon Budget Cuts Army to Pre-WWII Strength Despite ‘More Volatile’ World”