Pentagon to Cut Troop Levels, But Does It Mean a Smaller Military?

The Washington Post has this bit of news regarding President Barack Obama’s announcement of a new leaner approach towards militarism:

The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled a new military strategy that shifts the Pentagon’s focus towards Asia and says the country’s dire budget problems necessitate a more restrained use of military force and more modest foreign policy goals.

The strategy will almost certainly mean a smaller Army and Marine Corps as well as new investments in long-range stealth bombers and anti-missile systems that are designed primarily to counter China’s military buildup. It explicitly states that America can make due with a smaller nuclear force.

Why does this sound familiar? Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush administration’s defense secretary, attempted to do the very same thing a few years ago:

[Rumsfeld’s] goal in this pivotal year is to keep Iraq and Afghanistan at bay so he can turn to closing bases at home and realigning global forces even as combat continues…


But across the Pentagon, officials acknowledge that the twin tasks of building Iraqi security forces and defeating the insurgency stand in the way of Mr. Rumsfeld’s longstanding ambitions to fundamentally transform the nation’s military into something leaner, more agile and thoroughly modern. Success in Iraq would allow troop withdrawals to begin, relieving strains on budgets and personnel.

What happened instead? Rumsfeld oversaw the surge in Iraq and a military budget that has become more bloated year after year. Defense spending in the United States has more than doubled since military conflicts began in 2001.

The result? A defense budget that is six times larger than the next largest (China) and and larger than the next 17 countries combined.

Let us believe for a moment that Obama will actually make jobless thousands of troops, are there going to be savings? Not really. Part of Obama’s grand strategy for a “leaner military” would include “new investments in long-range stealth bombers and anti-missile systems” in a sort of arms race against China. Military equipment, as this chart shows, is very expensive. And then there are those military contractors and private mercenaries; Charles Davis tweets about them, “The U.S. military can cut troop levels because their work is now being done by private mercenaries and unmanned Predator drones.”

In the end, the budgetary problems created by this country’s rampant militarism is not addressed. Furthermore, we must really question the soundness of a strategy that includes an arms race against China. Is the long-term plan really to bankrupt China by buying more weapons bought with the money we borrow from them?

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