It is a mistake to gut the military

Washington Examiner Editorial:
Even a casual glance at the headlines from Ukraine and Venezuelawould indicate that the world is still a dangerous place and may turn even more dangerous in the future. Though President Obama no longer is heard to say that "the tide of war is receding" -- a favorite phrase from his first-term speeches -- his administration still holds an unrealistic view of how to keep the U.S. safe amid those dangers. That unrealistic view is what's guiding the Pentagon's plan for dramatic cuts in U.S. military forces.

The favored buzzword is "risk," as in "more of it." That's been a defining characteristic of Obama's defense strategy for more than two years, ever since he decided to slash $500 billion fromPentagon spending to protect entitlements and other Democratic sacred cows in the federalbudget.

The latest Pentagon budget proposal, outlined Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, stayed true to form, proposing to cut the Army to 450,000 soldiers or less -- the lowest level since the first peacetime draft was instituted in October 1940 -- as fighting in Afghanistan winds down.

The number is in keeping with the administration's belief that the U.S. is unlikely to get involved in new large-scale ground wars in the near future. But the Air Force, Navy andMarine Corps are also taking cuts, as are military benefits. Special operations and cyberforces are two of the few areas that are getting boosts in the Obama plan.

"While this smaller capacity entails some added risk even if we execute extended or simultaneous ground operations, our analysis showed that this force would be capable of decisively defeating aggression in one major combat theater ... while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater against an adversary," Hagel said.

Translation: If the U.S. has to fight more than one war at a time, things could get hairy. What are the chances of that happening? Pretty good, actually. The two-year-old global strategy on which the administration's defense spending is based includes the now-famous "Pacific pivot," which was intended to be resourced with pullbacks in areas seen as quieter and less important to U.S. interests, such as Africa and Latin America. The strategy also assumed effective partnerships in the Middle East and Europe.
History shows that this kind of weakness invites attacks and wider wars.  Why go back to the military that was not ready for World War II when we were a much smaller country to begin with?  The so called peace dividend of the 90's under Clinton left us with too small a military to fight the wars that followed the attack of 9-11.  We are facing enemies who are using insurgency strategies to offset our technical advantages.  To defeat insurgencies you have to have enough troops to create a force to space ratio that can't stop enemy movements to contact.  When you hollow out the army and the troops needed to do that you are playing into the hands of the enemy.

The return fire on Hagel's proposed cuts has been intense.


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