The U.S. military may be looking at a considerable size change — one that will shrink budget strain and spending, but could leave the U.S. with an obviously reduced security force as well as a crippled ability to respond to large-scale and long-term conflicts. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is behind the idea, and will release a plan Monday outlining its details, but it will basically call for a return to a more normalized military size and spending rather than the war-level force currently being maintained.
According to anonymous sources within the Pentagon who spoke to the New York Times, the plan will be more in keeping with the financial condition of the nation and the political ideology of Obama, who has promised to pull out of two and wars. The reduction in army size — which would take the U.S. army down to it’s humblest size since pre-World War II, according to the New York Times – would aim to transform the military into a capable force, but one that would be inappropriately sized for drawn-out overseas occupation.
Yes, the budget reduction will mean that two enormous and simultaneous military actions won’t be possible, said the officials, and should such an eventuality prove necessary, it will take more time and lives. Still, while “you have to always keep your institution prepared,” said a senior Pentagon official to the New York Times, “you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war.”
The official added that while budget spending would be smaller, there would still be sufficient money for maintaining the security goals of the President (i.e. the ability to protect U.S. territory and still control those interests beyond its borders), and win a war if it comes to that. “We’re still going to have a very significant-sized army. But it’s going to be agile. It will be capable. It will be modern. It will be trained,” said the official, emphasizing that the Defense Secretary’s plan has the favor of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Even so, there is a large political opposition to the plan already in Congress, as well as within the National Guard Association, state government, and those areas that would otherwise be benefiting from revenue stemming from spending on Navy shipbuilding. The Navy will, for now at least, be retaining it’s 11 air craft carriers, but the Army, National Guard, and National Reserve would be looking at bigger reductions. The Army would see it’s size shrunk to somewhere between 440,000 and 450,000.
With cuts such as this, the military budget will fall within the proposed limits for spending outlined by Obama and Congress at $496 billion. Certain aspects of the plan, such as weak payment increases for military members — basic pay increasing by a mere 1 percent for most — generals and flag officers are seeing no increase at all for a year, with little in the way of increases even after 2015 rolls around, according to the New York Times.