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
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