It’s a good thing that Barack Obama has become adept at ordering drone killings. If the sequestration cuts happen, the US Army says that most of its training will cease. Drones may be all we have left, at least until they start to break down.
Army briefing documents obtained today by AOL Defense lay out the likely impact of sequestration, the Continuing Resolution, and unresolved overseas contingency operations needs: an enormous $18 billion shortfall for the service that will be borne almost entirely by federal workers and military readiness.
The Army will have money to fully train a pittance of its full force, only the 82nd Airborne’s Global Response Force paratroopers, units in Korea, and troops headed for Afghanistan. Everyone else – 78 percent of the services’ Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs)– will cancel everything more elaborate than “squad-level training.”
That means the largest Army formations that practice together as a team will be eight-man squads. For comparison, even a football team gets to put 11 players on the field at a time – and as hard as you have to practice to win the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens didn’t have to rehearse how to coordinate the actions of thousands of players working as a unit while somebody was trying to kill them.
Even individual training will suffer in some areas. Helicopter pilots won’t be able to fly enough to meet proficiency requirements. Cutbacks at flight schools will leave the Army short about 500 aircrew for its fleet of helicopters. Cancellation of other specialized courses will create a shortfall of about 4,000 military intelligence specialists.
That’s just the Army. The numbers for other services may be as grim. We’re also, at this point, only talking about training. I was in the Air Force in the 1990s, during the “peace dividend” days. Drawdowns were occurring, which mostly moved older members out to early retirements, but equipment shortages became a problem. The Navy was cannibalizing ships to keep things going.
That was between the Iraq wars, so peacetime by today’s standards. Equipment returning from Afghanistan now usually needs refurbishment before it can be used in the field again. Sequestration will just about kill that.
The massive effort to ship equipment home from Afghanistan, refurnish it, and return it to combat units will grind to a halt. Shutdowns at Army depots alone will stop work on 1,300 trucks, 14,000 radios, and 17,000 weapons of various types. The ripple effects may delay needed equipment getting to some units by “3-4 years.” That’s right, three to four years.
This is a disaster for the US military and for world peace. A strong America is key to maintaining some level of peace around the globe. If our military is not capable of maintain its global reach, bad actors out there will notice and they will take advantage of it. There will be no cavalry to come to the rescue.