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Thread: Hagel Gives Dire Assessment of Choices He Expects Cuts to Force on the Pentagon

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    Hagel Gives Dire Assessment of Choices He Expects Cuts to Force on the Pentagon

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/us...apability.html

    Wow. Dropping the Pentagon budget below September 2001 levels is politically unthinkable for even the left side of our political leadership.

    We are doomed.




    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned on Wednesday that if across-the-board budget cuts were not lifted, the United States would have to reduce its global security objectives by trading away the size of its armed forces or its edge in technology as the Pentagon seeks to remain solvent.

    In a dire assessment of the financial challenges facing the military, Mr. Hagel said the political stalemate between the White House and Congress over a comprehensive deal for taxes and spending has required the Defense Department to plan for a range of cuts, since a deal to lift the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester remains elusive.

    Under the largest cuts the Pentagon is considering, Mr. Hagel described a trade-off: The military, he said, could maintain its size — as measured in the number of Army brigades, Navy warships, Air Force fighter squadrons and Marine expeditionary units — but not buy the most advanced new weapons. Or, he said, the Pentagon could shrink the force and put money into the next generation of weaponry.

    A decision to trade numbers for capability would involve a large drop in the size of the active-duty Army, which could shrink to between 380,000 and 450,000 troops. The Marine Corps would drop to between 150,000 and 175,000 personnel. (Under current budget orders, the Army already is set to fall over five years to 490,000 from a peak of 570,000, and the Marines are to drop to 182,000 from 202,000. The ground forces still would be slightly larger than they were before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the beginning of a decade-long military buildup.)

    The largest Pentagon cuts would also require a concurrent reduction in aircraft carrier strike groups to 8 or 9 from 11. In addition, some number of Air Force squadrons could be retired.

    “This strategic choice would result in a force that would be technologically dominant but would be much smaller and able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world,” Mr. Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference.

    The other option — to maintain a sizable military to assure an overseas presence and project global power — would require the cancellation or curtailment of weapons programs, while slowing the development of cyberwarfare tools and reducing the number of Special Operations forces, Mr. Hagel said. Dollar for dollar, cybertools and Special Operations forces are considered among the most cost-effective in the Pentagon budget.


    This decision would result in what Mr. Hagel termed “a decade-long modernization holiday.”

    Regardless of whether the sequester cuts are lifted or reduced, Mr. Hagel indicated that the Army and Air Force were still likely to shrink. He said the assessment indicated that the military could still execute “the priority missions” with an active-duty Army of between 420,000 and 450,000 troops and a reserve component between 490,000 and 530,000. The current plan for the reserves is a force of 555,000. Mr. Hagel said the end of the Iraq war and the withdrawal from Afghanistan required the fresh look at Army force levels.

    The Air Force could reduce its tactical air squadrons by up to five and cut the size of its C-130 cargo fleet “with minimal risk,” Mr. Hagel said.

    He stressed that no final decisions had been made.

    The assessment, called the “Strategic Choices and Management Review,” was conducted over four months and looked at several spending plans. The full sequester would cut an additional $52 billion next year, with $500 billion over a decade. A middle plan would reduce military spending by about $250 billion over a decade. The plan with the smallest Pentagon reductions was based on a White House budget proposal for cuts of $150 billion over the next 10 years.

    But even without these cuts, the Pentagon must reduce its spending by $487 billion over a decade under an agreement with the White House.

    “The review showed that the ‘in-between’ budget scenario we evaluated would ‘bend’ our defense strategy in important ways, and sequester-level cuts would ‘break’ some parts of the strategy no matter how the cuts were made,” Mr. Hagel said. “Under sequester-level cuts, our military options and flexibility will be severely constrained.”

    The defense secretary briefed President Obama on the emerging assessment of how a range of budget cuts would be felt across the fighting force, including the challenge to Mr. Obama’s “Defense Strategic Guidance” — which laid out the current military strategy — signed in January 2012.

    “No decisions have been taken that would break the strategy at this juncture,” said one White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military planning under the sequester. “This is bounded by the work we still are doing to secure a budget deal. Our judgment is, this is not the way to manage defense cuts. If we want to reduce defense spending, which we do, we want to do it in a way that is strategic. These are not strategic reductions.”

    Mr. Hagel also warned of serious reductions in some parts of the military compensation package, especially health benefits to retirees. He also said housing subsidies to military personnel could be trimmed and pay raises to service members and civilians could be limited.








    A version of this article appeared in print on August 1, 2013, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Hagel Gives Dire Assessment of Choices He Expects Cuts to Force on the Pentagon.

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    Hey Chuck how about cutting overseas bases and let the countries defend themselves? How about cutting the billions spent on planes, weaponry and god knows what else. How about some real cuts Chuckie!

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    Watching the media discuss the abject wreck that is U.S.-Russia Relations these daysd is quite the netertaining excercise in Political Science.

    Very enlightening.

    On this Botopic, how about we make the entire Budget back to 2001 levels? I'd be all for that.

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    Cuts across the board even the Presidents favorite entitlement programs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MnJetFan View Post
    Hey Chuck how about cutting overseas bases and let the countries defend themselves? How about cutting the billions spent on planes, weaponry and god knows what else. How about some real cuts Chuckie!
    If you really want something done?
    ...how about you hold the folks you voted for accountable and I hold the folks I voted for accountable?



    http://www.cato.org/publications/com...illion-gimmick

    ...Mitt Romney is pushing a shortsighted and costly plan to boost his national security credentials. In a series of speeches and policy pronouncements last week, Romney promised to dedicate at least four percent of the nation’s economic output to the military’s base budget, increase naval shipbuilding by two thirds, expand funding for national missile defense, and grow the active duty ranks by 100,000. Romney’s intention to shower so much money on the Pentagon — on top of the huge increases of the past decade — will compound the nation’s strategic problems, as well as its fiscal ones.

    The most striking thing about Romney’s proposal is the staggering cost. Based on the most likely of three different sets of Congressional Budget Office projections, defense spending will total $637 billion (or 2.7 percent of GDP) in 2021. Romney’s plan in that same year would cost taxpayers $900 billion. Cumulative defense spending for the ten-year period from FY 2012 to 2021, according to CBO projections, would total $5.811 trillion. Romney’s plan would cost $7.857 trillion, a difference of $2.046 trillion...

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