Pentagon Budget Cuts Army to Pre-WWII Strength Despite 'More Volatile' World
"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."
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