WASHINGTON: “It’s not his call,” the Army general said.

The general was the Army’s director of strategy, plans, and policy, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow. “He” is the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, Snow’s superior by two stars and about three layers of bureaucracy. And “it”? “It” is all about how big the Army needs to be.

All the services are being squeezed by the sequester, as the ongoing automatic budget cuts are known. But none is under more intense assault from both inside and outside the Pentagon than the Army. And the Army — from Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down— is starting to very publicly fight back.

Another reporter and I cornered Maj. Gen. Snow just after his remarks to the Defense One conference here on what he called the “creeping hollowness” that sequester is creating in the Army. I asked the general about the pressure on the Army, citing Winnefeld’s argument that the nation can no longer afford large-scale, long-duration land wars, so the Army should not be sized to do them.

“It’s not his call, though,” Snow said at once.

“Listen,” Snow went on, “that future security environment… is going to require a suite of capabilities. OK, so Admiral Winnefeld, he certainly has got his thoughts, [and] in many cases, if you view the threat as things that can be addressed by technology, that leads you in a particular direction. [But] technology is not going to solve all of our problems in the future.”

“Look, I’m a guy in uniform who spent four-and-a-half years deployed,” Snow said. “When you got to make that call for fire, I want to know that plane [from the Air Force or Navy] can fire in support of soldiers in contact. But, but! At the end of the day, in this clash of wills” — the classic, Clausewitzian definition of war — “you’re going to require soldiers,” Snow said.

And you’ll need enough of them to handle a big war, Snow went on. “None of us want to do protracted land campaigns, but we don’t know” whether the nation can avoid them, as Winnefeld and many other strategists are arguing it must. “You can say things like that,” Snow said, but — to paraphrase the revered former Defense Secretary Robert Gates — when we try to predict what the next war will be, “we get it wrong every damn time.”

Snow wasn’t the only one to warn against the “no big land wars” assumption at the conference. “We would be fools if we think there’s never going to be another ground war,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican and Air Force pilot. After every major conflict, Kinzinger said, the temptation is to cut deeply into our conventional force, and every time it comes back to haunt us. “We do need tanks,” he told the conference. “We do need fighters.”

“None of us want to do protracted land campaigns, but we don’t know” if we can avoid them, Snow said. “We don’t where that next [war] is going to be, but I can tell you right there will be a next — and we just want to be able to fulfill our responsibilities.

That means, for now, restarting combat training — much of which was cancelled this year for lack of funds — and fighting against long odds to keep the Army’s manpower from being cut too deeply. Gen.Odierno has publicly said the “absolute minimum” is 450,000 regular active-duty soldiers, while the Sec. Chuck Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR) has proposed 420,000.

To protect manpower and readiness, the Army has basically given up buying almost any major new weapons systems for at least the next five years, the 2015-2019 period covered by the budget plan currently in the works inside the Pentagon. Assuming sequestration continues, as there’s every indication that it will, the service will prioritize near-term, incremental upgrades to existing equipment — though even there it is having to make cuts — and long-term,  science and technology research to ensure new capabilities. But that leaves a gaping hole in the mid-term.

Most notably, Snow confirmed that the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle — for which two competing contractors have already submitted detailed designs and which was supposed to enter service in 2017 — is going to be, in essence, rolled back from its current “engineering and manufacturing development” (EMD) phase and turned back into a “science and technology” (S&T) program.

(“We are here to support the Army regardless of its ultimate decision on the GCV program,” BAE’s program director, Deepak Bazaz, told me in an emailed statement. You can almost hear the sigh behind the formal language. I’ve yet to hear from the other GCV competitor, General Dynamics).

While the Air Force and Navy try to protect their flagship weapons programs, the Army’s instinct under fiscal pressure is to keep people — if necessary at the price of modernization. That pattern dates back at least as far as the 1920s and ’30s, when the interwar army bought a bare minimum of those new-fangled things called tanks and airplanes.

“The Army’s capacity, our capability, is our soldiers,” Snow said, echoing a century of generals. “Our point is, hey, listen, let’s not be real quick to cut that capability, because once you separate these folks from the services, you’re not going to be able to get them back in the short term.” It can take 10 years or more to bring a new weapon from concept to fielding, but it also takes a decade to turn a new private into an experienced sergeant or a young second lieutenant into a mid-grade commander.

Today, after 12 years of war, the Army’s people have more combat experience than they have in decades, if not ever. (Rotation policies in Vietnam made for such high turnover that troops rarely had time to learn from experience, while World War II lasted only three years). So, said Snow, “we ought not to be too quick to shunt them aside.”

The difference between the Army today and the Army of past downsizings, however, is that while the service is still willing to cut weapons to keep people, it is not willing to cut training. But in the face of sequestration, it was forced to cancel most major exercises in 2013 because “operations and maintenance” accounts were the only ones liquid enough to pay for the sequester.

As a result, Snow told the audience at the conference, “there is a creeping hollowness in the force.” (He’s invoking the notorious “hollow Army” of the 1970s here). “We’re going to look good, we’re going to be getting paid” — in fact, Congress keeps increasing pay and benefits — “but we’re not going to be trained to respond to contingencies around the world and we’re certainly not going to have the equipment we need.”


  • Max_Onyx

    Over half of the defense budget is in personnel costs. Keeping close to 490,000 or “an absolute minimum” of 450,000 active duty soldiers is a luxury the nation can no longer afford. I understand the Army’s preference to preserve its end strength, but at what price? Anyone optimistic that sequestration is going to be lifted this year, or the next, or the year after that? Judging by the theatrics in Congress, I doubt it. If the Army leadership defers modernization and lets the industrial base atrophy, they (we) will bitterly regret it. Its a tough trade off, but isn’t it preferable to cut more active duty soldiers, than have to send them into a combat at some point in the future without modern, capable weapons? This is a HUGE risk the Army is running.

    Sequestration isn’t going away. I read where USAF is actually making long term plans to accommodate this reality. Army leadership needs to follow suit. We still have a Marine Corps last I looked. Don’t they count?

    • Alchemist Apprentice
      On Defense Spending Reforms

      Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023

      Option 1 Reduce the Size of the Military to Satisfy Caps Under the Budget Control Act

      Option 2 Cap Increases in Basic Pay for Military Service Members

      Option 3 Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees

      Option 4 Replace the Joint Strike Fighter Program With F-16s and F/A-18s

      Option 5 Cancel the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Program

      Option 6 Stop Building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers

      Option 7 Reduce the Number of Ballistic Missile Submarines

      Option 8 Cancel the Littoral Combat Ship Program

      Option 9 Defer Development of a New Long-Range Bomber

  • PolicyWonk

    Drawing down to a “minimum” 450,000 active duty soldiers still seems like a lot. That said – by how far is the general staff going to be drawn down? When I last calculated the general officer to boot ratio, there was one general to 600 boots.

    • Don Bacon

      There are thirty-seven (37) general officers at Fort Bragg.

      • Bob

        What are their names?

  • ziggy1988

    Why sacrifice anything when the DOD could deeply cut its bloated civilian workforce of 800,000 people and also replace troops who perform civilian tasks with civilian workers or contractors (for a fraction of the cost)?

    • Warren Kung

      Agreed but I would propose further reforms for the force as suggeested by the Congressional Budget Office

      The subsidized single payer tricare is not sustainable not to mention the unnecessary acquisition prograns I the face of food stamp cuts

      • Phoenix07

        The Tricare thing is for smarter folks to address. Here’s my take on the other stuff:
        – change military retirement to one like the civil service.
        – reduce DoD civilian numbers by half (to start) by replacing with contractors whose companies provide the benefits (I’m sure certain functions can be automated as well).
        – reduce the Army to 400,000 (375,000?) by reorganizing certain GPF units into advisory/ assistance units; put most/ all armored units in the ARNG
        – look at establishing an “American Foreign Legion” made up of foreigners (illegal immigrants?) led by US leaders; they’re stationed overseas, foreigners maintain their foreign citizenship, and get paid less….but pay no US tax.
        – emphasize drones over manned aircraft in the USAF and naval aviation
        – replace big carriers with amphibious assault ships configured to carry armed drones….cheaper ships, smaller crews

        How’s that for a start?

        • M&S



          – change military retirement to one like the civil service.


          Slash Social Security across the board, especially in the upper pay ranges, so that there are essentially no 40,000 dollar a year retirees. The alternative is raiding pension and savings plans which is _on the books_ as being ‘under consideration’. And if you do that, you will destroy the loyalty of the youth classes who already know they are victims of a Ponzi scheme whose payout they will never see.

          Provide a tax shelter for all families who provide live at home shelter for their parents. It will be ugly but a person living rent-free doesn’t need major retirement benefits.

          – reduce DoD civilian numbers by half (to start) by replacing with contractors whose companies provide the benefits (I’m sure certain functions can be automated as well).


          DOD is the defense industrial base. If you replace one group of trained financial experts with another group of trained warfare experts, the MIB will crash and the maintenance and logistics accounts of the Armed Forces will follow.

          Men who signed up to be killers will wonder why they are playing office warrior instead and you will see massive flight from the services.


          – reduce the Army to 400,000 (375,000?) by reorganizing certain GPF units into advisory/ assistance units; put most/ all armored units in the ARNG.


          Look at 73 Easting. Hell, look at all of Desert Storm. Look at Kasserine. Look at Task Force Smith. Look at the major engagements of Wacht Am Rhein and Fall Gelb.

          In every one of those conditions you will find three defining characteristics:

          1. Forces at the speartip were tiny. Never more than a battalion often less than a company in strength.

          2. Major Attrition did not occur en-masse but rather by increments of ambush, in depth.

          3. The primary drivers on rates of advanced were logistical, comms and fatigue. Seldom did actual combat attrition matter.

          Add to this the enormous American reluctance to trade men like chess pieces in mass casualty as exposed positions and you have a conop for ‘how to fight war’ in a modern context.

          1. Using recent battles, you design a fires and targeting capability which allows typical numeric disparity conditions to be overcome. If we face, on average, battalion size forces with platoon elements (3-6 tanks vs. 200-500 dug in infantry with supporting artillery and ATGW) then design those tanks so that they can defeat that level of threat increment. Do not pose hypotheticals of tank vs. tank in a WARPAC scenario that looks like Kursk. Because tanks were never intended to be used that way and we have systems like Wicmid-SFW which would make short work if anyone was stupid enough to create such a target mass.

          2. Avoid ambush by avoiding LOS contact. We have drones and manned platforms (Shadow Harvest) which can FOPEN through most cover. If we step into an ambush, we owe no one any excuses for how we let it happen.

          3. Design all operations around sustaining the ton-mile logistics necessary to keep that force in battle with sufficient reserves to replace typical attrition. 1-2 tanks per company team. And Diesel not Gas Turbine powered. With minimal infantry presence because infantry has no place in modern mechanized warfare. This means you have a total battalion sized footprint in the field, at most. That’s line and CS/CSS combined.

          4. Operate men separately from machines. The latter can be designed to sustain ops tempos that men cannot but as long as men dictate the pace at which the machines are utilized, rolling hot 24:7:365 can only happen with shifted combat crews who replace each other during convenient (prebattle area) changeovers.

          The Germans nearly conquered the world because their Aufstragstaktik ops cycle was up to 3 times faster (1-2hrs instead of 6-10) in adapting to changes in the surfaces and gaps model of combat. They achieved this by having such an incredibly high standard of training that a soldier who knew his commanders intent could act in the moment to achieve it, even if it meant acting diametrically against the ‘standing orders’. It was this universal soldier ability to understand and fit into the combat ethos of the moment, whether in attack or retreat, that let small composite scratch teams be thrown together to achieve an objective or block a breakout.

          Today we can do even better because we have such huge numbers of fires on call. But we have to account for the limits of fatigue. We have to say: “With this system, we can be in Baghdad in three days, not seven.”

          Because it is that speed of tempo which makes the unit hard to pin down and forces those threats which try into major open field maneuvers of their own. Allowing other services to take care of them while the maneuver force Army rolls on.

          With this vision of a much reorganized combat force, you want to have a battalion that fields only 3 companies but has something near to a brigade (say 2,500) in total force projective capability as means of sustaining ops tempo.

          In turn, with all your fighting and support concentrated in brigade teams, you want your division sized forces to be much paired back, closer to what they were in WWII which is to say 10,000 not 17,000 men.

          And you only need two or three such divisions, ‘with all the fixins’, which means that your tail ratio should be around 4:1 or roughly 100,000 total service.

          – look at establishing an “American Foreign Legion” made up of foreigners (illegal immigrants?) led by US leaders; they’re stationed overseas, foreigners maintain their foreign citizenship, and get paid less….but pay no US tax.

          No. If America fights, it fights. We do not get into the use of
          Condottieri for missions that we are afraid are too messy for Americans to know about or approve of. And that’s what AFL leads to, in the World View.

          “America doesn’t really care or she would send her best troops!” is an excuse to play dirty.

          See: Dien Bien Phu for what happens when you treat your auxiliary forces as expendable expeditionary/colonial troops.

          Let the Euros maintain that disgusting tradition (the FL grew out of the habit of French colonial forces buying the services of African slaves from their Colonial owners for a season under the ‘Rachat’ system and while this later turned to conscription, it remained a brutal and ugly approach to warfare…)

          Again, look at what went wrong in Iraq as your guide to ‘why you want infantry’ on a battlefield dominated by COE as Contempt Of Engagement style tactics.

          1. We failed to fulfill Hague Conventions on Laws of Land Warfare specifically Articles 42-43.

          SECTION III

          Art. 42. Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.
          The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.

          Art. 43. The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
          Having defeated such of the standing army that cared to fight we refused to consider the use by enemy illegal combatants of sectarian divisions as ethnic and religious strife to humiliate and embarrass our position in the country, making it clear that we _did not_ in fact control the conquered landscape, not because of continuing attacks on our own forces (which followed the French Vietnam model of holing up in FOBs every night) but by slaughtering the defenseless who were _under our care_, as military occupiers. We lost Iraq and nearly 16 billion barrels of oil, because we didn’t do diddly about the 300,000 Iraqis who were being victimized by their own people.
          That is NOT something which a small force can do on a constant patrol basis. The systems weight and infantry exposure to constant desultory and harassing fire cost us 35,000 WIA and until we stretched to the max for ‘The Surge’ we still did nothing to stop the internecine tribal conflicts.
          Had we put up armored telephone poles with high def cameras, boomerang gunfire locators and perhaps laser dazzle soft-defeat systems, we would have spent no more money than we did on ‘more armor!’ for a policing force. And we could have begun to work on the psychology of the threat using _law enforcement_ conditioning. Not coup psychology.
          “Interfere with the operation of our cameras, on every block, and you are subject to a death penalty. Get caught on camera, murdering another person, and you are subject to the death penalty.”
          Accompany this edict with a national ID system that requires Iraqis to register their home, their workplace and their biometric ID so that _wherever_ they go, we can find them using a database recognition system, similar to what is employed at the border with Mexico.
          Live. And in real time. If they lie about their residence or work, they lose it. If they don’t, we come pick them up, and the high def video is the tool by which we field court them into the next world.
          And every night, you show the video and you show the execution.
          It’s cheaper than UAVs and things like ARGUS-IS/Gorgon Stare. It doesn’t require patrol or OP intensive operations. And it makes it clear, up front, that this isn’t a game. It’s the law. Stay on the right side of the law, and you’re fine. Play games with the U.S. military and you’re in the bleep.

          Armed forces recruit local militias because they are afraid of guerilla warfare. Local militias know that they are dead men walking, not only to desultory contact while the Americans are there. But also the instant we go home.
          And the prevalence of remote operated, explosive and automatic weapons has long since made the presence of U.S. infantry forces on any SUW battlefield prohibitively risky.
          – emphasize drones over manned aircraft in the USAF and naval aviation-
          Yes and no. I don’t want to see us fighting another Desert Storm, OEF or OIF as a reactionary measure. For one thing I don’t believe we will ever have the base-in welcome as ‘good guys’ trust we once did. For another, we are going to be stretched very thin on a lot fewer decks.
          We simply cannot pay for it all.
          As a function of all this, I don’t want to ‘talk to’ some yutz in tank commander’s seat, an ejection seat or even general’s padded chair in the HQ. I want to talk to the guy who owns the factories that supplies the goods that makes Country-X rich enough to be able to afford wars of national gain.
          And in our conversation, I want to convince him to rein his attack dogs in _RIGHT NOW_, because if he doesn’t, he’s gonna be a very poor man by the end of the week.
          How do you execute this kind of capability enhancement? You don’t do forced entry to drop a tactical unit into a contested or even a rear area because that’s a strategic commitment to support those forces.
          You don’t do some kind of early-entry graded response with subs and destroyers firing cruise and ballistic strike weapons with sub strategic range because you have no reliable targeting to take down mobile threats like DF-21D (and ASCM and Mines and AIP subs and, and, and…). Miss one of those and your carrier becomes viewable only by glass bottom boat.
          You don’t want strategic bombers from CONUS because they are too sortie slow and too hard to base in securely in a world where everyone and his uncle has IRBMs. You also don’t want FALCON because that’s the NASP revisited as a bomber that costs as much as a carrier and flies as often as the Space Shuttle.
          What you want is a hypersonic strike platform that can launch from a carrier, get to altitude, fast, using throwaway propulsion technology (two THAAD motors would do it) and then light an X-51 type scramjet which can fly off of JP-8 and cruise ‘half as fast’ at Mach 8-12. This takes your carrier 2,000nm or more offshore, where it is untargetable, even by OTH-B. It reduces your total airwing commitment (tankers, EA, Escort, SEAD) to zero. And it allows you to fly missions as shuttle legs rather than radii. Launch from the ECS and recover in Al Udeid. Launch from the SCS and recover in Osan.
          In just a couple hours flight, you cross the full 3,500X4,300nm of Chinese or Russian hinterland. And that buys you global strike on a budget. Because the next day you can turn around and come back. Flattening another Yugo factory.
          And because you are able to skip KEMs across time zones, no defense system now extant will touch you. While even a direct copy only puts the carriers and bases (which are already at risk) at equivalent reach out and touch distances.
          But carriers move. And airbases can be hardened to an incredible degree with igloos and HAS’ and command condos.
          While factories have to be open, cheap and easy to access to rail and road transport networks. Which means they can be targeted, prewar, before the threat shoots down or spoofs our satellites.
          With this as a given (5-10 jets per big deck, not 40) there will still be times when you need persistent presence in the theater. And using JPALS enables you to make _not_ ‘Air Force and Navy’ models of RPAs. But ONE model of UCAV which can be deployed to either land or sea basing, depending on where it’s needed.
          replace big carriers with amphibious assault ships configured to carry armed drones….cheaper ships, smaller crews.
          No. An ‘Air Optimized’ LHA-6 without a well deck or serious MAGTF contingent is still about 850ft long and 50,000 tons. A ‘real’ carrier is about 1,000ft long and 100,000 tons. But in terms of easy to see and hit targeting for ASBM and ASCM in particular, they are about the same with some 3,500 men at risk.
          Where they are not equivalent is in the Nuclear Power (no fuel oil bill every couple thousand miles) and in the deckloads accommodated. With _no_ other aircraft onboard, an LHA can perhaps bring two squadrons of 12 F-35B ondeck. A Nimitz class can bring 4 such squadrons of F/A-18F with twice the combat radius and tankers, and AEW&C, and jammers, and COD for the massive pipeling of spares that the fleet readiness squadrons must constantly maintain in transit to keep the airwing working.
          To even /think/ about doing this for the Marine ships is to also have to pay for dedicated AEW&C plus Tanker plus COD variants of the V-22. At least. And this will be another 50-100 billion atop the existing F-35 program costs for a capability which, by altitude and range will be half as good (the V-22 has no pressurization and it is so heavily overweight that it’s ability to climb up to 30-40K and scan to the farthest horizon is questionable, as it’s ability to transfer a useful amount of fuel via drogue. It’s ability to deliver an F135 engine is not in question, it flat out cannot fit it inside.).
          The Marines want organic airpower because they aren’t as dumb as their land-grunt brothers (nor constrained by the Key West accords). Quite simply, tacair is sexy and ‘non dangerous’ because it doesn’t risk more than a pilot at 40,000ft which is usually 30,000ft higher than the threat can shoot back at.
          Sexy = Money Friendly in the game of budget prostitution.
          We have four air forces, the largest being the Army with it’s huge helicopter fleet. This is an utterly despicable condition because what it really amounts to is turf protection by basing mode which is like the bottom 2-3% of the mission evolution, by time, which should have a like influence on design variance. It is pure rent seeking as power politics.
          Put another way, the Battle Cat (Kitty Hawk) was the big deck we went into AfG with in 2001 because it was large enough to accommodate every one of the SOF teams we forward deployed -and- it’s conventional airwing (albeit downstairs) with pickup and resupply by aircraft as large as the C-130 giving it a superb Sea-FOB option in the days before we actually invaded.
          Given Sequestration is likely going to lead to a 6-8 deck fleet, let’s make sure they are the most capable ships for projecting airpower. And if we have to do forward from the sea type ops, let’s develop quick-configure kits at various bases around the planet, centered on commercial containers and shelterized systems for our Special Warfare Operators.
          Let’s not pretend that just because the Marines saw the train coming, they automatically get to step off the Sequestration tracks by asking for _more money_.
          JSF is a zombie program walking. Beyond any other system, it should be the first one killed. And without the F-35B, the Marines have no fastjet tacair. Which is how it should be.

    • Dan Kemp

      I told the G3 (Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations) for the entire US Army that I would have been a better deal as a five-year term-hire GS-9 than I would have been when the prime contractor collected a hundred grand, pay the subcontractor sixty, and me see about 35. Of course after five years of contracting, I am unemployed after next Monday. Someone decided the war was over.

    • M&S

      Because the contractors have the ear of the Congress and the Congress has pushed for commercial practices across the board as a result, _since the middle 80s_. Even when year to year direct comparisons between Service run depots and Contractor ‘yearly O&M’ funded maintenance account plans dramatically favor the uniformed solution to readiness and maintenance.
      Essentially, the smart people in the Defense Industry figured out long ago that the end of the Cold War meant something or someone had to give. And they did. Partly through consolidation and sell off (mostly to the Brits) of large chunks of overlapping industrial capability. But also via the recognition that Cold War spending on R&D of new weapons for which there was no longer a competitor and no budget to buy in numbers meant protecting profits by protecting sustainment of what was already in the inventory.
      Hence they decided to make the Armed Forces a one stop shop guaranteed service plan. And they sent their lobbyists to Congress, first, to make sure it was an offer the uniforms could not refuse.
      In the process, the contractors have also taken over the defense bureaucracy in WDC as the bean counters are the real middle men between commercial and service maintenance.
      It’s too late to go back because things like ‘one level’ maintenance have long since replaced the Squadron and Intermediate maintenance shops and so just cutting off the head as office workers is not going to save Big Army as they would have to replace all the in-field contractors without the schools or the spares lockers or the TOE to return to integrally funded and maintained weapons systems.
      Congress knows all this and also knows that, aside from being in a position of owing their campaign contributors major thanks that they don’t owe their generals (back in the day, you kept a General on the payroll in case the Praetorians tried to play coup de tat and also because you got a cut of the pillage and tribute if you funded his campaigns).
      They have chosen to maintain the MIB as much as they can because a soldier isn’t born to win, he’s born to employ the weapons systems which win, by numbers and by technological advancement.
      The Wehrmacht and Imperial Japanese Armies had veteran troops with millions of total man hours as both institutional and combat experience from long before WWII.
      American soldiers had next to nothing before Kasserine and Guadalcanal.
      But we won WWII because we had wealth as industrial base (and two big moats) sufficient to militarize the nation and all our allies, though it bankrupted our resources doing so. At every level except perhaps armor and machine guns, the U.S. dogfaces in particular enjoyed vast technical, numeric and logistical supremacy. And that is why the Axis lost against a bunch of rank amateurs.
      Soldiers can die while relearning how to fight and there will always be 150 million more where they came from. But particularly in todays rapid combat evolutions, there is no time to retool and so Congress chooses defense infrastructure over defense capabilities.
      Which is part of how we got here.
      We have foolishly maintained a Keynesian wartime economy ever since Breton Woods in 1943-44 and the result is a 220 trillion dollar debt with a 12% GDP deficit on _just the interest_, as things now stand.
      Obamacare as an instant slushfund similar to Social Security is one part of this as a ‘new taxes without saying taxation’ approach to making up the difference.
      Maximum slashing of discretionary budget funds is the other.
      And the military has, by far, the largest discretionary chunk of the budget, every year. Had anyone in the Services taken Economics 101, they would have subjected our darling Leadership to a Threat Assessement and seen this coming a mile away.
      The sad part is that, at best, this is just a limp the gimp, temporary, solution. There are major changes in global currency values coming and the massively over extended USD (2008: 800 billion base currency, 2013, 2.4 trillion base currency) is going to come crashing down, no matter what bandaid we put over the sucking chest wound of the U.S. Debt.
      No amount of planning or ‘hoping’ will mean diddly in the next 2-3 years because it is basically not the U.S. call how low the dollar falls. That choice belongs to nations who have no confidence in our debt service plans and wanting their gold reserves back, have been told they can’t have them.
      That kind of arrogance is just begging for a hard switch to alternative buying schemes on all forms of global commodities trading with barter and secondary currency trades replacing the USD altogether.

  • Warren Kung

    Lucky for us Deputy Carter has finally left. We do not need another weapons expert at the post (please do not nominate Frank Kendall or Linda Hudson they will ruin Pentagon)

  • Alchemist Apprentice
    On Defense Spending Reforms

    Option 1 Reduce the Size of the Military to Satisfy Caps Under the Budget Control Act

    Option 2 Cap Increases in Basic Pay for Military Service Members

    Option 3 Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees

    Option 4 Replace the Joint Strike Fighter Program With F-16s and F/A-18s

    Option 5 Cancel the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Program

    Option 6 Stop Building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers

    Option 7 Reduce the Number of Ballistic Missile Submarines

    Option 8 Cancel the Littoral Combat Ship Program

    Option 9 Defer Development of a New Long-Range Bomber

  • squidgod_the_unbannable_2.0

    Typical post-land-war mentality: “Shit, that sucked. We’re never gonna do that again.”

    Guess what happens.

    GEN Kroesen wrote a neat little piece about the history of Army readiness a couple months ago:

  • MrAmericanPie

    “we get it wrong every damn time.”

    You got that right — one botched invasion and occupation after another.

  • Gary Church

    Keep the soldiers and keep the toys they have in repair. Most of the new toys are a rip-off. And how about some of those over the top profits our mega corporations are showing? How about some income tax to support the military from those beings?

  • Scott Cunningham

    The program was looking to cost about $28,8B according to CBO. For the 1800 vehicles the Army planned on buying, the sticker prices was $13M per vehicle. Net capability gain over the existing Bradley was estimated at about 16%. The vehicle designs has grown to the point that prototypes were being seriously proposed that weighed in at 84 Tons (yes, you read that right…). This is a good decision.

  • Timo

    “…while World War II lasted only three years”. WWII started in September 1, 1939 when Germany and Soviet Union invaded Poland (preceded by Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union) and ended in September 2, 1945 when Japan signed surrender documents (hostilities mostly ended in August 15). This means that whole war took 6 years and one day. United States involvement started in December 8, 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and invaded Philippines then under U.S. control. Even if we count only U.S. participation into war that means almost 4 years (3 years, 10 months and few days) of fighting – not three as stated in article.

  • Don Bacon

    Q: How can we possibly avoid another Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan?
    A: Don’t go.

    SecDef Hagel gets it:

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that the American people have grown skeptical about using military force and the Pentagon should play a more limited role in future U.S. foreign policy.

    Hagel pointed specifically to public reaction this summer to President Obama’s threat to launch missile strikes on Syria, when polls showed Americans overwhelmingly opposed an attack and Congress balked at granting authorization.

    “There was a pretty clear message on where the people and Congress are on using military force,” Hagel said at a national security conference in Washington.

    Anybody that doesn’t get this, like Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican and Air Force pilot, needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • RightCowLeftCoast

    Our fiscal problems are not the cause of the military, but the growth of entitlement programs. Defense of our nation is written into the constitution, but the largest portions of the overall federal government go to programs not covered under the constitution being entitlements (mot part of the “mandatory” budget). If we get that priority strait, we’ll reduce our federal deficit and be able to spend funds on what is constitutionally mandated.

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