Defense: The U.S. withdrawal from global leadership continues as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposes cutting the Army to its smallest size since before World War II, leaving no replacement except tyrants and chaos.
Considering the Obama administration has ignored or violated the Constitution in so many ways, we're not surprised that the imperative to provide for the common defense has been reduced to the level of nonessential discretionary spending. Nor are we surprised Secretary Hagel is the messenger delivering this bad news.
His views differ sharply from those of his predecessor Leon Panetta, who warned that under Obama's budget cuts and sequestration our military would have "(t)he smallest ground forces since 1940," "a fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915," and the "smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force."
Hagel made news in 2011 when he told the Financial Times, after a "trim" of $487 billion from the Pentagon budget, that he wanted even more cuts. "I don't think that our military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically, in a long, long time," Hagel said.
Now we know what they mean. Under the new proposal, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000, the lowest level since 1940 prior to our jolting entry into World War II.
As we recently noted, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, the former U.S. top general in Iraq, testified before Congress last September on the anticipated impact of the Budget Control Act and sequestration in 2014.
If the cuts aren't reversed, Odierno told lawmakers, 85% of brigade combat teams would be unable to respond to "contingency requirements" by the end of this year and "will result in a 45% reduction in active Army brigade combat teams."
"That means less tanks, less Bradleys, less trucks, less M-16s, less mortars, less artillery systems . . . it impacts all of our workload, because we're getting smaller."
"In my view," he added, "these reductions will put at substantial risk our ability to conduct even one sustained major combat operation."
Gen. Bob Scales, a retired U.S. Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, recently described on Fox News an army that "has got a mortar that was built in 1931. Its main machine gun was designed in 1919. "
"The helicopters that you saw in the latest movie 'Lone Survivor' were designed and built in 1962. We have weapons in the Army that were used by soldiers' great-grandfathers, and yet there is no program in the Army today to develop new materiel."
Our adversaries are rejoicing for what no enemy could do on the battlefield and what President Obama has accomplished from the White House — decimate the U.S. Army. And they'll gladly fill the vacuum he's created.
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