US, Britain both face defence catastrophes
By Hal G.P. Colebatch
Just before Russia moved forces into Crimea in defiance of international treaties, more huge cuts were announced for the US armed forces. These were made without any analysis of the threats the nation faces.
The A-10 attack aircraft, which have in the past proved themselves invaluable for ground support, are due to go, along with the U2 reconnaissance aircraft following the high-flying Mach-3 capable Blackbird to the scrapyard. A host of soldiers and Marines are to be made redundant.
The Navy can’t afford to refuel one nuclear carrier resulting in it — and the rest of its battle group — being stuck in port for the foreseeable future. This is matched with cutting half of the Navy’s cruiser force.
The armed forces are to be shrunk to their lowest level since 1940.
Obama’s “Pacific Shift” to protect Japan, Taiwan, and the rest of the Pacific Rim nations is now officially a nullity. So is his promise to replace the ground-based missile defense that Bush promised Poland and Czechoslovakia with a sea-based system.
` Military pay raises will be capped at 1% for the second straight year. Pay won’t be actually reduced, but some allowances will be, such as the housing allowance which is the reason military families can sometimes live off-base when on-base housing isn’t available.
Existing pay rates are far less than civilian bureaucrats make, without having to cope with all the disruptions service life imposes on families and without being required to risk their lives in combat.
The Obama administration proposes Army cuts from 520,000 to 440,000 and the Marines to be cut from 190,000 to 182,000. So 88,000 soldiers and Marines will lose their jobs — through attrition and outright firing — and not be replaced. There are no plans to reduce the vast population of bureaucrats, who number about 2,723,000.
Jed Babbin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defence in the George H. W. Bush Administration, wrote: “But for every $100,000 bureaucrat fired, you could keep 1.4 mid-rank sergeants. And I’ll guarantee that 0.4 sergeants are a lot more valuable and productive than 4.0 expensive bureaucrats.”
Commentator Tom Rogan wrote, just before the Crimean crisis: “But if the last ten years of war have taught us one thing with certainty, it’s that we can’t make do without a significant ground forces capability.
“Neglected of troop levels, in Afghanistan and Iraq, the result was a relentless deployment schedule — think fifteen months in Iraq, a year at home, and then twelve months in Afghanistan.
“For some, that routine brought a terrible dividend …
“Defence Secretary Hagel suggests that the Army’s new force levels will enable America to simultaneously fight one major war and support another military action somewhere else. Unfortunately however, his claim relies upon one precarious assumption. The Defense Secretary assumes that any future military action would be short — Kuwait 1991 versus Iraq 2003.
“That’s a risk too far.
“Imagine, for example, that the Pakistani government collapsed. That terrorists then seized access to elements of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile. Such a situation would demand a major intervention — to secure those weapons and ensure Pakistan’s transition back to a semblance of peaceful stability. Imagine if North Korea then decided to take advantage of the situation by testing American resolve with an incursion into South Korea. That a skirmish then led to full-scale war. Faced with these joined catastrophes — unlikely but eminently possible — America would stand on the precipice of defeat.
“And those are just two hypotheticals.
“The President’s budgetary protection for Special Forces pretends that the bases are covered. The Administration seems to believe that Special Forces offer a magic bullet for the unknown crisis situations America may face — a comparatively low-cost expenditure for a grand strategic effect. And while it’s true that Special Forces are critical to the U.S. defense strategy, their utility is inherently limited. They lack the numbers necessary to seize territory and overcome enemy divisions.
“Still, this budget isn’t just badly orientated, it’s also delusional. Noting that the world was undergoing ‘unprecedented change’, Hagel nevertheless claimed that this budget would ‘manage these anticipated risks.’
“That latter comment likely had Clausewitz turning over in his grave. Of course judgments can be made about anticipated threats. But what about unanticipated threats?”
Rogan concludes: “Yet for all its weaknesses, the real deficit of this budget is found in its message to the world. Already cognizant of our hesitancy, America’s adversaries now have another reason to smile. With these cuts Obama isn’t simply signaling his disinterest in facing down America’s adversaries, he’s showing his disregard for the cornerstone of American power — its consistency. This budget thus plays to a most dangerous presumption — that America is in decline and lacks the resolve to lead in the 21st century.”
Former Vice-President Dick Cheney described the cuts as “Absolutely dangerous” and “just devastating.
“I have not been a strong supporter of Barack Obama. But this really is over the top. It does enormous long-term damage to our military,” Cheney told Fox News. ”They act as though it is like highway spending and you can turn it on and off. The fact of the matter is he is having a huge impact on the ability of future presidents to deal with future crises that are bound to arise.”
Cheney believes the cuts reflect President Obama’s beliefs and priorities.
“He would much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.”
It is impossible to know whether Obama believes a militarily weaker and humble America will be less “provocative,” or if he is weakening it out of hatred for its present culture and institutions and its role of flagship of the West.[i]
Certainly it can be said he shows no love for its culture and institutions. It was his friend and associate
the Rev. Jesse Jackson who organised a demonstration against a University teaching a course in Western Civilization, leading a mob chanting the slogan: “Ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho! Western Civ has got to go!”
Meanwhile, writing in The American Spectator Online, Peter Ferrara, Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute and General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, has made some frightening points about American weakness viz-a-viz Russian aggression at the nuclear level.
At the time of the missile defense cancellation, Ferrara says, Obama assured us he had a “smarter” idea for better missile defenses to protect Europe and the American east coast, which could be deployed with more advanced technology later at sea. So where is that “smarter” idea now?
“Next in the ongoing deconstruction of America’s defenses came Obama’s perverse 2010 “New Start” supposed arms control deal with Russia. Under that “deal,” America’s deployable nuclear warheads are to be sharply reduced from 5,000 to only 1,550, about 10% of what America had at the peak of its defenses. In return, Russia is required to make exactly zero reductions in its deployable warheads.
“Is this really a continuation of the enormously successful Reagan/Bush arms control policies with the old Soviet Union? Or does such a deal make any sense any more, now that the old Soviet Union has broken up, and we face multiple nuke threats from more than Russia, like a heavily rearming China, and the almost complete nuke breakout of the Muslim terrorist state of Iran? Or is this just more Obama Calculated Deception to foist his 1960s hippie policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament on an unsuspecting, too trusting America?”
Ferrara alleges that unilateral nuclear disarmament is the indicated ultimate motivation based on the views of Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, Obama’s top longtime left-wing arms negotiator.
She is now proposing further nuclear disarmament to reduce America’s nukes to just 300. Obama has already indicated sympathy with that view.
“But that may not even matter anymore,” continues Ferrara. “Nuclear warheads naturally deteriorate over time, and so require periodic testing to ensure their reliability. Our nuclear deterrent won’t deter anything if our missiles are just going to land with a loud thud, and no explosion. Obama, however, is refusing to conduct any such tests, over the objections of Congressional Republicans. Instead, Obama is supporting the proposed Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would prohibit any such further testing permanently.
“That would end America’s nuclear umbrella for all of our allies, including Israel. That in turn would mean worldwide nuclear arms proliferation, as our allies would recognize that they have to take care of themselves. But such proliferation is not the concern of America’s ‘progressives,’ as long as what they see as the evil America is disarmed. Was Obama the Manchurian Candidate or something?
“Neither Russia nor China are restrained by any such test ban treaty considerations. They are both financing, pell-mell, comprehensive nuclear modernization buildups. They seem to know a once in a lifetime opportunity when they see it. Gottemoeller’s response to that: ‘We are not developing new nuclear weapons or pursuing new nuclear missions.’
“That is reflected in the American defense builddown proposed in Obama’s new budget. Obama proposes to spend less on national defense than last year, every year for the next 10 years, except for 2024, when he would go back, 11 years later, to the 2013 level for national defense. That would reduce national defense back to the pre-World War II sum of 2.3% of GDP. That is why the Navy, the Air Force, and the Army would all be reduced to pre-World War II levels as well. This is why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was moved to ask before Congress last month, ‘What happens when our enemies can burn our homeland, and not just our flag?’
“Three months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that “[t]he era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” Moscow replied two weeks later with its defence minister’s announcement that Russia will set up bases in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for its navy and for the refueling of its strategic bombers. Who are they planning to bomb? [The Monroe Doctrine, originally aimed at Spain, after the Spanish American colonies revolted in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, held that European military interference in the Western Hemisphere would be taken by the US as a causus belli.]
“President Kennedy imposed a blockade on Cuba when he discovered Russians installing nuclear missile launchers there. But from the Obama ‘progressives,’ all we, and Putin, hear, are crickets chirping.
“So Obama got what should have been the expected response to all this, with Russian troops marching into Ukraine, to seize Crimea to start. Even the reliably liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recognized the parallels between Putin’s action and Hitler’s first aggression to start World War II. Hitler marched into and seized the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia supposedly to protect ethnic Germans living there, just as Putin has marched into Crimea, supposedly to protect ethnic Russians there. Even Cohen recognized that just as Hitler did not stop with the Sudetenland, but soon took over all of Czechoslovakia, then seized Poland, and then marched all the way to Moscow, so Putin could also lay claim to protecting ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and beyond. How far in reestablishing the Soviet empire will Putin go? The answer is easy. Until someone stops him.
“This does not mean America must go to war again. Remember, Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. America could do that again, with purely economic responses. Conservatives today are reluctant to change the public conversation from the chaos of Obamacare, and the Obama economy. But opening up a well warranted national defense issue would only add to, not distract from, the failures of the Obama Democrats, just as it added to the Reagan Coalition 35 years ago.
“But it may already be too late. Even Iran and North Korea will soon have the capability to launch a devastating EMP attack against America, which would require launching a couple of nuclear missiles off of America’s coasts, to detonate miles up in the atmosphere. That would fry all electronics below, throwing America back into the 18th century, with no electricity, and no operative electrical systems, including in cars, trucks, planes, and trains. Even military vehicles below would not be operable.
“So forget about even driving to the grocery store, or drug store, or doctor’s office, or hospital. They would all have no delivered supplies any way. That is why a Presidential Commission in 2004 concluded that after such an attack 90% of Americans would be dead within a year.”
Meanwhile in Britain the number of Army reservists grew by only 60 in the last quarter of 2013 despite a Government drive to recruit 11,000 part-time soldiers by the end of year, to compensate for the slashing of the regular forces from 102,000 to 82,000. In other words it expected about 10,000 extra army reservists to replace 20,000 regulars.
The miniscule increase followed a year in which the reserve actually shrank and added to concerns that the Ministry of Defence will struggle with targets to replace 20,000 regular soldiers with a boosted reserve of 30,000.
Given the complexity of modern equipment and the long training now required, the extra number of reservists – even if they were attained – would not begin to equal the loss of 20,000 regulars.
Around 1,400 soldiers including hundreds of Gurkhas will be made redundant later this year, the Ministry of Defence is expected to announce, a scurvy return for the Gurkhas’ long and legendry record of gallantry and loyalty and especially given the lack of social security in their poverty-stricken native Nepal. Recruiting Gurtkhs into the Brirtish Army was not only a major military asset for Britain, but a non-patronising vehicle for foreign aid to a country desperately in need of it.
Up to 70 RAF personnel will also lose their jobs in the fourth round of job cuts to sweep the Armed Forces. The island now has a bath-tub navy, smaller than that of France, with just 19 surface combatants. Two of the three Invincible-class aircraft/helicopter carriers, invaluable for disaster relief as well as combat operations, have been broken up, and the survivor has no planes. Bizarrely, it has been calculated, that though this is being done in the name of cost-cutting, the savings will be nil or less.
While the armed forces are being reduced towards non-viability, the foreign aid budget is being “ring-fenced” against cuts, even to wealthy countries like India, which has more millionaires than Britain, and a more advanced space programme, or for useless and frivolous politically correct schemes such as grants for African women’s dance troupes.
Never mind the lowest strength since 1940, which is causing outrage and despair in the USA armed forces – these cuts will leave the British regular Army its smallest since the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.
(a shorter version of this article appeared in the Australian News Weekly)
[i] Editor’s note: It is a policy of the international global governance organisation and UN advisory agency, Socialist International, that America and other western countries gradually demilitarise and pass the money to the United Nations to create a global army. This agenda is addressed in the new book “Totalitaria: What If The Enemy Is The State?” by Ian Wishart. Some of Obama’s key advisors have been Socialist International members, as has former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. This story can be found here: http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/2559/global-governance-on-climate-agenda/