President Barack Obama and his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have come up with a plan to shrink our nation’s military. What was staged as a political event with the president flanked by Panetta and the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon, the work on these cuts are long in the making. Actually, it was former Defense Secretary Robert Gates who started drafting a plan.
Though the details will come out in the next few weeks, the Department of Defense has laid out its vision of the threats to the nation and how to respond to them. The Army and the Marines will see a reduction in force. That will correspond to a different attitude when it comes to wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan. No more go it alone nation building. On the other hand, Special Operations units will see an increase in force.
The focus of the military will shift from the European theater, where we have been the police force of the world since World War II, east, toward China and North Korea. No more free lunch for our allies who have been able to plow resources into their infrastructures rather than into their militaries. Even with the planned reductions, we will still spend more money on defense than the next 10 countries combined, including China.
Of course there are choruses who claim the president’s plan jeopardizes national security. However, this approach is a reasonable plan in light of changing world dynamics, technology, and the state of the nation’s finances after going through a decade of two wars without paying for them.
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The DoD, has said it can handle the cuts, amounting to about 8 percent over the next decade, but there is another looming cut that could hit the Pentagon if Congress can’t get its act together. If, God forbid, they don’t come up with a deficit reduction plan, the cut would increase to 17 percent of the Pentagon budget, which Panetta has termed a “doomsday” scenario.
It would seem that Congress would find a way to step away from the cliff it has willfully walked toward. However, with this Congress, they repeatedly seem ready to dive over the edge, regardless of the consequences.
-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board