By Matt Naham, Rare Staff
After Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced significant military budget cuts on Monday, many conservatives reacted with alarm. Some saw these reductions as the Obama administration hurting the military or even as an invitation for America’s enemies to threaten.
Here’s what the cuts will do: Subtract 80,000 foot soldiers maximum and 8,000 Marines, but add on 4,000 special operations troops for tactical warfare and 900 Marines for U.S. Embassy security purposes; cancel the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Program; save $3.5 billion by retiring the A-10 –a 40-year old, Cold War tank destroying aircraft — and replace it with the F-35 by 2020; retiring the 50 year-old, human operated U-2 surveillance plane for the unmanned Global Hawk; and reduce operating status for roughly half of the Navy cruiser fleet (11 total cruisers) for modernization purposes.
According to the New York Times, the cuts should leave the U.S. with a military that will “be agile. It will be capable. It will be modern. It will be trained” and one “capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.”
In other words, the military will maintain its ability to defend the home-front and execute quick strikes abroad, but will be incapable of, say, occupying Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. This perhaps shows, more than anything else, that the U.S. has recognized the changing landscape of warfare and the futility of long-term occupation.
Fiscal conservatives should be pleased. Many are not.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) finds the cuts “disappointing,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) thinks our foreign interests and allies will now be threatened, former Congressman Allen West believes this effectively “decimates” the military, former Vice President Dick Cheney is calling the cuts “absolutely dangerous,” and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) sees this as a “serious mistake.”
Entitlements are by far the greatest contributor to our debt and annual deficit, but what is second? National defense.
Matthew Feeney of Reason notes that of the the top 20 military spenders in 2013, the U.S. was responsible for 44 percent of $1.316 trillion dollars spent. Additionally, even with the proposed reductions implemented, “the U.S. Army will still be one of the largest in the world, and U.S. military spending will still be much larger than any other country’s,” sats Feeney. America will still have a military larger than the next ten countries combined.
The amount of troops we may cut from the Army at the most, 80,000, is almost as many as the British Army aim to have in total by 2020. All told, this non-catastrophic reform would save the U.S. $75 billion over the next two years.