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Imagine a married man with two kids, and a great executive position in a multi-national company. Because of his position he makes excellent money that allows his wife to shop at her pleasure, but also makes his family a target for threats and kidnapping. He uses his money to hire security guards to protect his family, and to pay for a high-end alarm system for his home.
Now imagine that this man loses his job, but the threats to his family persist. He cannot afford both the shopping of his wife and the security guards for his family. To reduce expenses, he gets rid of the guards, and the alarm system, but keeps giving his wife money to shop for shoes as she wishes.
Doesn’t that scenario seem a bit odd? Wouldn’t it be more responsible to cut the shopping and continue to pay for the needed security of the man’s family?
The scenario painted above is the exact one facing the U.S. regarding the security and defense of the country. In the real world, President Obama is the man, and his family is the United States population. His decision last month to reduce the size and scope of the military is just like the man’s decision to get rid of security guards that are protecting his family from kidnapping, to save money.
The United States is facing a fiscal crisis that has the potential to send the country into an economic tailspin. With a national debt of 16 trillion dollars, and yearly spending at a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit, President Obama knows that cuts need to be made in spending. Following in the grand tradition of liberal Democrats before him, he is trying to solve the problem by raising tax rates, and of course going after defense spending. This is wrong-headed, dangerous, and short sighted.
In his defense, President Obama, is not doing anything that other politicians have not done. Long before Obama stepped onto the scene, President Herbert Walker Bush began cutting troop levels. Clinton followed suit with the closing of numerous bases and offering what he termed, a “peace dividend.” Truth be told, politicians have been cutting the military first, ever since the time of Rome and Carthage. It is an easy foil, but always has consequences that are bad.
The problem is that no one, politicians or generals, are any good at predicting the future of military conflicts. During the Korean War, it was determined that since we had long-range missiles on our fighter jets, we didn’t need guns on them or needed to bother teaching dog fighting (aerial combat) skills. The result? U.S. planes were getting shot out of the sky left and right. Forcing the air force to spend money to retro fit the planes with guns, and bringing fighter pilots out of retirement to teach dog fighting.
At the start of the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld determined that the U.S. would use a lean and mean war effort. The result was huge casualties, because troops were spread thin, and fatigued from multiple tours that came because of the troop reductions that Bush and Clinton made in the 1990’s.
Now, President Obama is doing the same thing. Cutting troops, reducing spending on hardware like fighters and aircraft carriers. Instead, they will use more drones, and a focus on elite forces like the Seals, and Special Forces. The rationale being that there will be no large-scale wars in the future.
Aside from the fact they cannot know that, even current conditions could point to that view being totally wrong. Drone air attacks have been very successful, but that’s partly due to the desert environment of the Middle East. Drones are practically useless in the jungles of Southeast Asia, or South America. Drones will not be able to see through the canopy of jungle trees, so they cannot be fully utilized as though they are in Afghanistan, or Iraq.
China is continuing to build up its military—new fighters, ships, drones– Russia is a sleeping bear that reared its ugly head two years ago in Georgia, and who knows what will happen in the middle east between the Muslim world and Israel. All around the globe there are warm spots of conflict, a spark away from flaring into hot spots of war and strife.
Lastly, relying on elite forces ignores the fact that the people in them take a long time to train, and do need breaks in deployment. Have we not learned that lesson from the wars of the last ten years? By reducing the force numbers,—already too low—we hamper our ability to handle conflict in different locations.
It’s not a stretch to see us mired in the Middle East again, while simultaneously dealing with terrorists in African, Asia, and problems in South America. Of course, it’s easy to say, “We just don’t need to get involved so much.’ But who says we have a choice? We were not in some protracted war before 9/11, but they attacked us anyway.
The reality is that we increase our troops, and spend money on military hardware, not for what happens three years from now, but what happens 10, 15, or 20 years from now. The hardware we used in the first Iraq war was developed during the Reagan years. President Obama, and our military leaders have no clue about what will happen in the next 10 years. They can guess, but every time they decisions like this in the past, they have been wrong. So it is better to over prepare, and under utilize, rather than be under prepared and have to scramble to catch up.
The world is a complicated and dangerous place. A weak America makes it more dangerous, not less. Especially for American citizens that may live or die based on the decisions our leaders are making today. If we cut the military, the country, and indeed some places in the world, shall end up paying the price. A price far higher in blood and tears than the price of what we’re spending on the military now.