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  • Defense Budget: Military "Experts" Seem to Have Short Memories

    A recently released report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “Strategic Choices: Navigating Austerity,” argues that allowing some hollowing out of our military forces is acceptable.

    The report is raising eyebrows around Washington, mainly because it is so at odds with what Pentagon leadership is saying.

    The individuals who published this report—retired military officers and independent policy experts—are normally a voice of reason, bringing reality where sitting officials are at times driven by political concerns. They have the opportunity to apply historical context and experience without the pull of day-to-day issues. In this case, they seem to have reversed course. The “experts” have completely divorced themselves from any historical experience and have cavalierly made up their own facts.

    The report calls for sacrificing training and “current readiness”—i.e., allowing the force to hollow out—in order to somehow be prepared for a future conflict. The money saved would be used to buy things that would make us ready for future challenges. The idea seems to be retaining personnel, but not training or equipping them to do their missions.

    Apparently, none of the experts remember the disasters at Kasserine Pass in North Africa during World War II. Nor do they seem to remember Task Force Smith in the Korean War, when brave but woefully ill-prepared Americans died because they had neither the training nor the equipment to fight an enemy who had not been polite enough to allow the U.S. military enough time get up to speed before the fight.

    The report’s authors also inexplicably seem to have forgotten the post-Vietnam period, when the combination of public antipathy and low funds caused military installations to become dangerously undisciplined and filled with crime.

    Also ignored was the post–Cold War drawdown that had Army units doing little besides physical training and road marches. There was simply no money to do anything else. The people were there, but the levels of training, discipline, and professionalism dropped off precipitously. It was only the Herculean efforts of the leaders at the time that turned the military around in time for the first Gulf War and made our enemies die for their country rather than the other way around.

    To use the wise adage of old soldiers, this report “briefs well.” Shrinking the force in this way sounds like a reasonable solution to budgetary woes. The truth is that if this path is adopted, Americans will die. It is the road to weakness, hollowness, and danger. Either American civilians will pay because our military is unable to stop an unexpected attack, or American military personnel will die because they were sent to do a job for which they were unprepared and ill-equipped.

    The type of strategy outlined in “Strategic Choices: Navigating Austerity” should be rejected out of hand. Its appeal to those who see the military as an expensive anachronism will be huge, and the chance that it will be embraced is high. One hopes that leadership in the Pentagon will be successful at fending off this monumentally bad idea.

    Those “formers” who are now “experts” seem to have horrendously short memories. They should be ignored for the sake of those young men and women wearing the uniforms of our nation today.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Defense Budget: Military "Experts" Seem to Have Short Memories

    1. Ripper10 says:

      Maybe these so called experts should lead the battle.

    2. Perfectlyaged says:

      I am sending out emails to the defense department and my congressmen today. This is totally unacceptable to put our brave service men/women in harms way fully unequipped! We need to remove all of the gobs of security around the White House and deplete the security that travels with Obama!!!! As I have said, Obama and Washington are becoming so calloused and it is time for them to go!!!!

    3. zbigniewmazurak says:

      Excellent rebuttal, Mr Bucci. I'd add only that even Teams A and E’s proposals are not without flaws. These are:

      - The country could inadvertently be drawn into a new ground war in the future. The US should, of course, strive to avoid this, but someday, it may be unavoidable.
      - All teams’ proposals cut the Marine Corps too deeply – some of them down to just 150,000 troops. That would make the USMC unable to handle even one major contingency, according to USMC leaders; moreover, USMC commandant James F. Amos has recently said that if he were to meet all requirements of Combatant Commanders, he would have to quadruple the Marines’ expenditionary units. Moreover, the Marine Corps offers a unique capability to fight simoultaneously on land, in the air, and at sea, and a unique amphibious assault capability, which other services don’t offer and cannot replicate.
      - Their proposals might (details have not been released) cut ground force modernization too deeply.
      - Their proposals all cut the F-35 program, which is necessary to recapitalize the fighter fleets of three American services, which currently consist of obsolete, unsurvivable aircraft. OTOH, to be fair to the teams, the F-35 is stealthy only from some aspects and only in the S/X/Ku-bands and has a short combat radius (no more than 615 nm in the C variant’s case). It needs to take the back seat to long range strike capabilities.
      - Their proposals cut, to various degree, missile defense systems.

      Overall, while the purpose of this CSBA exercise and the resulting report was to show that deep defense budget cuts can be done safely, this exercise and this CSBA report have inadvertently done the opposite: they have demonstrated that additional cuts as deep as 519 bn USD cannot be done safely without significantly weakening the military.

    4. zbigniewmazurak says:

      Overall, I'd say that of all teams, A and E did the best job. Team A avoided any cuts in air- or seapower, instead making deep cuts in the ground force and the number of DOD civilians, while Team E made only modest cuts in the USAF and the Navy. Both of them made only tiny cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent – and both compensated for it with new investments in the deterrent. Both of them made significant reductions in the ground force.

      This is because these two teams likely recognized that in future wars, air- and sea-power, not ground troops, will play the decisive role. Accordingly, both of them spared the USAF and the USN from any deep cuts (or in Team A’s case, from any cuts at all) and chose to cut the ground force and DOD civilians instead. (It should be noted, however, that other teams elected to deeply cut ground troops and DOD civilians as well.)

    5. Reb says:

      This is typical of all democratic administrations. First cut back the Military, reduce their allotment of funds, manpower, and training. Then get us involved in another war. They have done this without fail for all of my 86 years, and they have never learned a damn thing. Even Carter tried, but he was so damned inept that he could not start a war.


    6. Beegee says:

      Sure sounds like the same attitude which brought us the "Fiscal Cliff" that's causing it in the first place, we'll do what we're interested in today and leave the tough decisions for tomorrow. I guess anyone who's ever served then left the military can be considered retired from it. Sure doesn't make them able to speak for it, or even sound intelligent when trying. Hopefully there are still enough in America who understand common sense to save the lives of future militar.

    7. Bill says:

      Defending this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic is absolutely constitutional!!! Not redistribution of wealth via social programs, which is a Karl Marx strategy. The best defense is a strong offense!!!

    8. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      After World War I, we cut the military budget drastically. Why? We were isolationist, insular, and anti-military.
      By 1939, the Army, (including the Air Force), was down to 189,000. There weren't enough men to fight in two
      wars. According to the June 1991 issue of Smithsonian magazine, "Army officers dressed in civilian clothes so
      as not to raise civilian, (congressional), hackles." The deficiencies were made even more glaring by the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers. General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff and future Secretary of State, went
      before the Senate Military Affairs Committee to answer criticism about the deaths in the Louisiana Maneuvers.
      Marshall said: "My God, Senator, I'd rather have them dying over here than dying over there!" If Germany had
      wanted to invade the United States, Hitler could have done so with impunity because the Army wasn't big enough to deter the Wehrmacht Heer. The House also proposed abolishing the Army. The bill failed by only
      ONE vote.

    9. Ryan says:

      Heritage, once again, showing how much in bed they are with neocons and the republican establishment. MILITARY SPENDING IS SACRED!!!! bullcrap….we can cut the budget by half if we get out of the business of nation building and focus on national defense….you know, defending our borders

      DeMint will be a great fit for the cons over here

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