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Old 02-24-2014, 10:31 AM  
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Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/us...evel.html?_r=0

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.

The proposal, described by several Pentagon officials on the condition of anonymity in advance of its release on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.

The officials acknowledge that budget cuts will impose greater risk on the armed forces if they are again ordered to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time: Success would take longer, they say, and there would be a larger number of casualties. Officials also say that a smaller military could invite adventurism by adversaries.

“You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war,” a senior Pentagon official said.

Outlines of some of the budget initiatives, which are subject to congressional approval, have surfaced, an indication that even in advance of its release the budget is certain to come under political attack.

For example, some members of Congress, given advance notice of plans to retire air wings, have vowed legislative action to block the move, and the National Guard Association, an advocacy group for those part-time military personnel, is circulating talking points urging Congress to reject anticipated cuts. State governors are certain to weigh in, as well. And defense-industry officials and members of Congress in those port communities can be expected to oppose any initiatives to slow Navy shipbuilding.

Even so, officials said that despite budget reductions, the military would have the money to remain the most capable in the world and that Mr. Hagel’s proposals have the endorsement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Money saved by reducing the number of personnel, they said, would assure that those remaining in uniform would be well trained and supplied with the best weaponry.

The new American way of war will be underscored in Mr. Hagel’s budget, which protects money for Special Operations forces and cyberwarfare. And in an indication of the priority given to overseas military presence that does not require a land force, the proposal will — at least for one year — maintain the current number of aircraft carriers at 11.

Over all, Mr. Hagel’s proposal, the officials said, is designed to allow the American military to fulfill President Obama’s national security directives: to defend American territory and the nation’s interests overseas and to deter aggression — and to win decisively if again ordered to war.

“We’re still going to have a very significant-sized Army,” the official said. “But it’s going to be agile. It will be capable. It will be modern. It will be trained.”

Mr. Hagel’s plan would most significantly reshape America’s land forces — active-duty soldiers as well as those in the National Guard and Reserve.

The Army, which took on the brunt of the fighting and the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, already was scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000.

That would be the smallest United States Army since 1940. For years, and especially during the Cold War, the Pentagon argued that it needed a military large enough to fight two wars simultaneously — say, in Europe and Asia. In more recent budget and strategy documents, the military has been ordered to be prepared to decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there.

The Guard and Reserves, which proved capable in their wartime deployments although costly to train to meet the standards of their full-time counterparts, would face smaller reductions. But the Guard would see its arsenal reshaped.

The Guard’s Apache attack helicopters would be transferred to the active-duty Army, which would transfer its Black Hawk helicopters to the Guard. The rationale is that Guard units have less peacetime need for the bristling array of weapons on the Apache and would put the Black Hawk — a workhorse transport helicopter — to use in domestic disaster relief.

The cuts proposed by Mr. Hagel fit the Bipartisan Budget Act reached by Mr. Obama and Congress in December to impose a military spending cap of about $496 billion for fiscal year 2015. If steeper spending reductions kick in again in 2016 under the sequestration law, however, then even more significant cuts would be required in later years.

The budget to be presented Monday will be the first sweeping initiative that bears Mr. Hagel’s full imprint. Although Mr. Hagel has been in office one year, most of his efforts in that time have focused on initiatives and problems that he inherited. In many ways his budget provides an opportunity for him to begin anew.

The proposals are certain to face resistance from interest groups like veterans’ organizations, which oppose efforts to rein in personnel costs; arms manufacturers that want to reverse weapons cuts; and some members of Congress who will seek to block base closings in their districts.

Mr. Hagel will take some first steps to deal with the controversial issue of pay and compensation, as the proposed budget would impose a one-year salary freeze for general and flag officers; basic pay for military personnel would rise by 1 percent. After the 2015 fiscal year, raises in pay will be similarly restrained, Pentagon officials say.

The fiscal 2015 budget will also call for slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and would reduce the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, which would most likely make goods purchased at those commissaries more expensive for soldiers.

The budget also proposes an increase in health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees and for some family members of active servicemen. But Mr. Hagel’s proposals do not include any changes to retirement benefits for those currently serving.

Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today. The budget plan does sustain money for the controversial F-35 warplane, which has been extremely expensive and has run into costly delays.

In addition, the budget proposal calls for retiring the famed U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk.

The Navy would be allowed to purchase two destroyers and two attack submarines every year. But 11 cruisers will be ordered into reduced operating status during modernization.

Although consideration was given to retiring an aircraft carrier, the Navy will keep its fleet of 11 — for now. The George Washington would be brought in for overhaul and nuclear refueling — a lengthy process that could be terminated in future years under tighter budgets.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:36 AM   #2
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Smallest force, not smallest budget. Big diff. Who needs feet on the street when you can just kill people with drones like Obama does?
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:38 AM   #3
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Pretty clearly overdue. Our military spending is more than four times China's (2nd in the world), according to the one international organization.

We can still have the world's more most* powerful military without being so ridiculously extravagant.


*Edited to fix typo.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:38 AM   #4
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Looks like it's Davis-Monthan for the ole Warthog. At least until they are needed again...
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
Pretty clearly overdue. Our military spending is more than four times China's (2nd in the world), according to the one international organization.

We can still have the world's more powerful military without being so ridiculously extravagant.
Completely agree. I do wonder how the "saved" money is going to used, however.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:39 AM   #6
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:42 AM   #7
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From what I'm reading on the internet, most Libs want US intervention in the Ukraine. But we also know that most Libs want the military reduced. Do I need to explain why those 2 don't go together?
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Prison Bitch View Post
From what I'm reading on the internet, most Libs want US intervention in the Ukraine. But we also know that most Libs want the military reduced. Do I need to explain why those 2 don't go together?

"Liberals" who want direct US Military intervention in the Ukraine (i.e. boots on the ground) are morons. Complete and utter morons.

Are there any senior elected Democrats calling for this? Or are you just citing some internet yahoos?
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Donger View Post
Completely agree. I do wonder how the "saved" money is going to used, however.

Unfortunately it's just going to go down the well of ever-more-expensive entitlement programs most likely. Not that current programs will be expanded, but rather nothing will be cut back.

The deficit can't be balanced on the back of the wealthy getting taxed more, nor on reduced military expenditures, but nobody seems to have the guts to touch the third and fastest-increasing expenditure -- entitlement programs (including SS/Medicare, which aren't necessarily properly classified as "entitlement" programs).
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:47 AM   #10
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:48 AM   #11
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
"Liberals" who want direct US Military intervention in the Ukraine (i.e. boots on the ground) are morons. Complete and utter morons.

Are there any senior elected Democrats calling for this? Or are you just citing some internet yahoos?
Reading the NY TImes comments section on a few articles. It was near unanimous we need to intervene if that pesky President dares to believe that just because he won an election, he gets to actually stay in office. I think that comments section is an excellent proxy for LIberals.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:51 AM   #13
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Hard to believe we will cut pay and benefits for soldiers. But Obama has no use for military and has never respected it so we shouldn't be surprised.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:03 AM   #14
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The larger issue is our National Security Strategy and DoD's role in it. From the strategy should flow the force structure; Ends-ways-Means-Risks. Yeah, I know, that is crazy talk and inconsistent with Section 8 of the Constitution for the Army and Congresses' role (2 years of funding, to provide for organizing, arming, disciplining, etc.). It is consistent with all of our National security laws and acts however. The upcoming QDR has some foundational strategy pieces that should shape the future Army:

Quadrennial Review To Emphasize Middle East
Feb. 23, 2014 –
By JOHN T. BENNETT and MARCUS WEISGERBER
http://www.defensenews.com/article/2...ize-Middle-Eas

WASHINGTON — The US Defense Department’s latest military strategy review will stress the Pentagon’s commitment to the Middle East, a region that has felt jilted by numerous US actions in recent years.
The quadrennial defense review (QDR) — an outline of military strategy updated every four years — is also expected to examine changes unfolding in the Pacific, the global security environment and fiscal outlook for DoD, according to sources.
In January 2012, the Pentagon’s Strategic Guidance, a major overhaul of military strategy, placed a greater emphasis on the Pacific, which was widely perceived by other regions of the world as abandonment. Even though the US has not changed its force posture in the Middle East, emphasizing the region in the updated strategy would send a message of commitment to the region, experts said.
The QDR is also expected to emphasize research-and-development investment, according to sources, an area of major emphasis by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall and other top leaders.
DoD officials will preview the Pentagon’s updated military strategy and 2015 budget proposal this week in what should be a busy few days for the Pentagon. Also on the schedule this week is Robert Work’s nomination hearing to be deputy defense secretary.
The 2015 budget proposal is expected to total $496 billion, which is in line with spending caps established last last year. The services are expected to make some major funding shifts, including the Air Force retiring all of its A-10 attack jets, a reduction in planned Navy littoral combat ship purchases and steep personnel reductions in the Army (see Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army...below).
The services are also expected to put forth a $26 billion unfunded priorities list, a wish list of items not included in the budget itself.
The Obama administration likely will scale back funding for the US military’s most elite forces, which spearheaded the fight against al-Qaida and embodied the Pentagon’s rapid post-9/11 budget growth, multiple defense sources say. “SOF will be flat” across the 2015 budget plan’s five years, said one defense source with ties to the Pentagon and White House. Another source, citing conversations with senior special operations officials, said spec ops funding will be “reined in.” Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said setting spec ops funding on a flat trajectory from 2015 through 2019 “sounds reasonable given the tremendous growth that area has seen in recent years.” The expected flattening of special operations funding shows, analysts say, that budget realities have finally caught up to the military’s most elite units.
The White House is slated to deliver its full federal budget request to Capitol Hill on March 4. The QDR is also expected to head to lawmakers in the coming weeks.
Sources say Work’s confirmation to be the Pentagon’s No. 2 shouldn’t be derailed by a budget preview the day before his hearing. Numerous sources say it’s unlikely senators would block Work’s nomination if their pet weapons program is targeted for cuts when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previews the Pentagon’s 2015 spending proposal on Feb. 24.
But they expect Hagel’s “budget pre-brief” to create some tense exchanges between annoyed Senate Armed Services Committee members and Work, President Barack Obama’s pick to be deputy defense secretary. “I think he’s going to be confirmed,” said Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for American Progress, a think tank with ties to the Obama administration.
Many defense observers considered Work’s confirmation hearing a mere formality. After all, the former Navy undersecretary and think tank executive is well-respected among Republicans and Democrats. And no one has questioned his qualifications to manage the Defense Department. One defense source noted that Work and the other nominees are known quantities within the military-industrial-congressional complex and have been intimately involved at one point or another throughout the current budget and quadrennial defense review processes. Still, senators surely will use the confirmation hearing to grandstand if Hagel announces cuts to a weapon system made in their state, sources say. “I think he’ll be fine, but the Hagel briefing will make the hearing not such a pro-forma thing,” Korb said. “Overall, though, I think he’ll have no major problem at all.” “He’ll certainly have to answer for some things he wouldn’t have had to answer for two weeks ago,” one defense source said.
One potential point of awkwardness: The Pentagon’s acting deputy, Christine Fox, wrote a classified memo in January directing the Navy to halt production of littoral combat ships at 32, well under the planned purchase of 52. During his time as Navy undersecretary, Work was the department’s loudest cheerleader for the ship program. Becoming the deputy puts him in the position of defending program cuts after years of full-throated endorsement.
One prominent defense industry lobbyist said he doubts “people would put a hold on his nomination without having all details of the budget, which is not coming for another week or so.”■
An additional op-ed:

"Maybe, on reflection, it is not a Kennan that Mr. Obama needs, but a Kissinger. "The attainment of peace is not as easy as the desire for it," Dr. Kissinger once observed. "Those ages which in retrospect seem most peaceful were least in search of peace. Those whose quest for it seems unending appear least able to achieve tranquillity. Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective . . . the international system has been at the mercy of [its] most ruthless member."
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...91492993958448
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
Pretty clearly overdue. Our military spending is more than four times China's (2nd in the world), according to the one international organization.

We can still have the world's more most* powerful military without being so ridiculously extravagant.


*Edited to fix typo.
When called on to fight, our servicemen and women will pay the price for being the most powerful by a significantly smaller margin than they should be. In the meantime, our diplomatic efforts will suffer from the two pronged detriment of having a less capable military and unreliable leadership.

What's clearly overdue is a serious look at addressing the real source of our fiscal problems which emanate from the domestic side of our budget. The defense budget shouldn't be treated like a piggy bank from which to extract a supplement for domestic overspending.
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