Chuck Hagel

Drastic Defense Cuts: Projecting Weakness to the World


President Obama has finally found some budgetary cuts that he can support and a promise he can keep.  As part of a “government austerity” pledge, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will present a Pentagon plan to greatly reduce defense spending for 2015.  The plan would dangerously shrink the Army to pre-World War II levels.  One of the most controversial parts of the plan calls for limiting housing allowances and the rate of military pay increases.

From NewsMax:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will propose on Monday a reduction in the size of the U.S. military to its smallest size since before World War II and scrapping a class of Air Force attack jets, The New York Times reported late Sunday.

It would leave the military capable of defeating any enemy but too small for long foreign occupations, and would involve greater risk if U.S. forces were asked to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time.  Specifically, officials acknowledged that winning such a war would take longer, and there would be a larger number of casualties.

The plan also would:

  • Transfer the National Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active-duty Army, which would transfer its Black Hawk helicopters to the National Guard;
  • Create an increase in health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees and for some family members of active servicemen;
  • Call for slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and would reduce the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries;
  • Eliminate the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft;
  • Retire the famed U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk.

Overall, the Army, which currently has about 540,000 troops, will drop by about 20 percent to 440,000 troops over the next several years.

The weapons-buying request for 2015 will be about $91 billion, or $15.2 billion less than the $106.2 billion the Pentagon estimated last year; and $64 billion for research and development, or $8.8 billion less than forecast, according to internal budget figures provided by a defense official.

Several Republicans have blasted the details of the proposal.

Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “The world is not getting to be a safer place. This is not the time for us to begin to retreat, and certainly not the time to cut our military.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also told Fox News that these budgetary cuts would sacrifice our military readiness “on the altar of entitlements.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), whose husband was an A-10 pilot, has vowed to fight the plans to retire that aircraft.

The Army cuts were first reported last night by Defense News.

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