The Pentagon Wants the Smallest Army Since World War II
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is set to unveil a new, proposed Pentagon budget on Monday that considerably reduces the size of the United States military.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is set to unveil a new, proposed Pentagon budget on Monday that considerably reduces the size of the United States military. According to officials who spoke to The New York Times, the budget would "aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001."
The proposal has come about for two main reasons: President Obama's attempts to end the nation's extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the federal government's fiscal woes. The resultant downsizing would make the U.S. capable, according to anonymous officials who spoke to the paper, "capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations." In other words, great defense, but a little warier on offense.
As Hagel phrased it, back in July:
This strategic choice would result in a force that would be technologically dominant but would be much smaller and able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world.
That idea of a military being able to fight on multiple fronts has been perpetuated since the first days of the Cold War, when the Pentagon expected to need boots on the ground in both Europe and Asia.
While the elimination of an entire class of Air Force jets is part of the proposal, other areas will retain much or all of their current support. Those are, specifically, Special Operations and divisions focused on cyberwarfare.
The plan for an Army of about 450,000 personnel—the smallest since World War II—will likely face a lot of pushback, despite reportedly having the full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cuts to benefits will draw criticism, including pay raise limits, higher fees for health benefits, and smaller housing allowances. War hawks will argue that a smaller military makes the country weaker and more susceptible to attack, and companies and representatives in port cities will oppose measures that slow the shipbuilding industry.