“Among the cuts: killing the Marines’ $15 billion expeditionary fighting vehicle; delaying production of the F-35 fighter; and trimming the manpower of the Army and the Marines by 42,000 or more.[Emphasis mine – Mike]” – Wichita Falls (TX) TimesRecordNews, “Our Opinion: Gates says Pentagon faces financial ‘crisis'”, Editorial distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, Posted January 29, 2011 at midnight
Congress — particularly the newly-anti-military, pro-partisan Republicans in the last Senate — refused to let this budget measure for the military even come to a vote in 2010. They filibustered it.
Now, outgoing Secretary Gates says that one of the budget-cutting measures on the table for deficit reduction is trimming 42,000 troops from the Army and Marines, apparently on top of the 25,000 already proposed.
I can’t get my head around this. For literally years, we’ve been hearing horror stories about multiple war zone deployments, high military suicide rates, high failures to re-enlist experienced warriors, and the necessity of mobilizing and deploying our National Guard — as in the folks that are supposed to guard the Nation, our land within our borders — to foreign war zones.
And the proposed answer to his series of problems is to cut manpower by 42,000?
“As of 30 September 2010, 1,430,895 people are on active duty in the military with an additional 848,000 people in the seven reserve components. … The Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Defense budget request plan calls for an active military end strength of 1,406,000…The Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Defense budget request plan calls for an active military end strength of 1,406,000…” – United States Armed Forces, Wikipedia, portions from “Defense Budget, Fiscal Year 2011″
Personnel are the 2nd most expensive part of the military budget, so that’s an obvious place to look for money. And yet … The 2011 proposed budget already called for a reduction of 25,000.
So the U.S. armed forces, while often described as being at the breaking point because of the strain we’ve put on our military people and needing years to rebuild … We’re cutting back the one thing that’s genuinely both invaluable and irreplaceable, and takes years to train and develop: people.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously said:
“As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” – Washington Post, 2004-Dec-14
And then there’s this:
“There’s not a single piece of paper in history that’s ever served as a deterrent to a Pearl Harbor. Every twenty years or so we pick ourselves up bleeding off the floor and forget that. Mistakes which are delivered to us COD by peace-loving men and are bought and paid for by peace-loving men – men in uniform.” – General James Mattoon Scott (played by Burt Lancaster), Seven Days In May (1964)
Between those two quotes — one real, one fabricated by Rod Serling for a movie — have we as a nation and a government learned nothing about preparedness?