Posted by Curt on 24 February, 2014 at 4:13 pm. 1 comment.



This is the whole reason he was brought on as SecDef in the first place, Legal Insurrectionreminds us. Obama knew that he’d take heat from Republicans for downsizing the military, but maybe not quite as much heat if he had a nominal Republican in charge of the process.

For the United States, the age of occupation is over. Whether that means an age of occupation is beginning for someone else, stay tuned.

Officials who saw an early draft of the announcement acknowledge that budget cuts will impose greater risk on the armed forces if they are again ordered to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time: Success would take longer, they say, and there would be a larger number of casualties. Officials also say that a smaller military could invite adventurism by adversaries.

“You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war,” a senior Pentagon official said…

The Army, which took on the brunt of the fighting and the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, already was scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000.

That would be the smallest United States Army since 1940. For years, and especially during the Cold War, the Pentagon argued that it needed a military large enough to fight two wars simultaneously — say, in Europe and Asia. In more recent budget and strategy documents, the military has been ordered to be prepared to decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there.

Among the specifics: The army will swap its Black Hawks for the National Guard’s Apaches, which have more firepower; funding for cyberwarfare and Special Ops, two of Obama’s priorities, will continue at current levels; and the A-10 Warthog, which was designed to target Russian tanks in case they invaded Europe, will be retired. (Anyone in Kiev want to buy a jet?) I’m not qualified to say which cuts are smart and feasible and which are dangerously short-sighted but I know we have plenty of readers who are, so here’s your thread to sound off. I am qualified to say that a few years ago this type of move from a liberal president who’s already seen as provocatively weak would have raised holy hell on the right.

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