Monday Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, said that he would like to shrink the military to it’s smallest size since WWII and add other cuts along with it, causing some to say that such drastic cuts will affect our nations security in a negative manner.
“We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies, new centers of power, and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States,” he said in a press conference.
He said that with technological advance they can focus less on troop strength and more on “technological superiority,” special operations forces and “cyber resources.”
He said the Army had already been preparing to shrink from a peak of 570,000 to 490,000 active-duty members and he’s proposing to cut it even further to between 440,000 to 450,000.
The chairman of the House homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tx), said he believes that the cuts will be detrimental to military readiness and added that the country is only having to make these types of cuts because Obama and Congress won’t seriously act on entitlement cuts.
“It’s all being sacrificed … on the altar of entitlements. This president cannot take on mandatory spending, so all we’ve done in the Congress — and this president — is basically cut discretionary spending,” he told Fox News.
Initially the New York Times reported on the proposed cuts and said the changes would reportedly leave the military unable to sustain occupations of foreign territory but still able to wage war.
The times reported that Hagel’splan was endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and would call for the Navy to maintain all 11 of its carriers that are currently in operation. It would however retire the U-2 spy plane, and mandate that the entire fleet of A-10 Warthogs be eliminated from service. It would however keep the F-35 warplane project in operation even though it’s been plagued with delays and criticized for its design flaws.
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Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Monday that he and other military leaders were consulted by Hagel throughout the process of drafting the new proposal and asked their advice on how to balance defense and budget-saving requirements. “He has worked hard with the services to ensure that we continue to stand for the defense of our national interests — that whatever budget priorities we establish, we do so in keeping with our defense strategy and with a strong commitment to the men and women in uniform and to their families,” He said.
“But he has also said that we have to face the realities of our time. We must be pragmatic. We can’t escape tough choices. He and the chiefs are willing to make those choices,” according to Kirby.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the new proposal recommends a limit on military pay raises, less generous housing allowances, a one year freeze on raises for the top brass, and higher fees for healthcare benefits as well. These proposals are sure to draw fierce criticism from both Congress and veterans groups across the country.
Mieke Eoyang who’s the director of the National Security Program at Third Way which is a centrist out of Washington D.C. said that he believes this is going to be an uphill battle to get the new proposals passed.