Can America Afford to Scale Back Its Military?
When it comes to a leaner military, there are more questions than answers
President Barack Obama outlined a new strategy Thursday to trim the nation’s military in an effort to save the country money following two costly wars.
Despite downsizing, Obama assured that the U.S. will remain the world’s No. 1 military power.
"The question that this strategy answers is what kind of military will we need after the long wars of the last decade are over," Obama said. "Yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know -- the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with Armed Forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats."
The plan reduces the size of the Army and Marine Corps. Defense officials said the Army, now at 570,000 people, is likely to be cut to about 490,000.
At the Pentagon, there was conciliatory language which indicated tough decisions had to be made.
"It's not perfect," said Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who flanked the president. "There will be people who think it goes too far. Others will say it doesn't go nearly far enough. That probably makes it about right. It gives us what we need."
There are three major concerns that emerge from the news:
- Jobs for veterans. Active-duty military personnel rely on the pay they get to provide for their families. A gradual scale back will undoubtedly leave some families behind, even as assistance programs from the private and public sector are in the works.
- Limits our reach. With the military to be reduced by about 80,000-100,00, important nation-building and peace efforts in Europe and Asia are likely to be affected.
- Vulnerability. By announcing that we are going to scale back won't that make us a bigger target than we already are?
Does a leaner military mean a stronger one?
Though Obama says the military will be prepared, the U.S. has never had to prepare from a massive scale back in resources such as this. Will it hurt our standing in the international community? If nothing else, it makes Obama an easy target this election year as his opponents will almost certainly declare that he has made a mistake -- and they’d have the numbers to back them up.