"The boom times are over for the nation's military," say Rob Hotakainen, Adam Ashton, and Curtis Tate for McClatchy. The Defense Department's budget, after more than doubling over the past 10 years, will shrink by at least $350 billion over the next decade. And if the congressional supercommittee can't agree to a deficit reduction plan, the Pentagon's budget will take another $1.2 trillion hit. The Army says it already plans to trim 50,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next five years, even without the $1.2 trillion in possible cuts. Will this belt-tightening put our national security at risk?
Yes. The risks are grave and immense: The Pentagon hasn't said what cutting the extra trillion dollars would mean, says Max Boot at Commentary. But House Republicans have, and their report "makes for alarming reading." Warships and fighter jets would be mothballed, our nuclear arsenal would be slashed, and some 200,000 Army soldiers and Marines "who signed up to serve their country will be fired." That's not just "breaking faith with these heroes but also jeopardizing our security — and that of our allies."
"Breaking faith with our heroes and allies"
No. The bloated Pentagon budget can easily be trimmed: So if the supercommittee "doesn't find a way to stick it to low-income folks and the elderly," says Kaili Joy Gray at Daily Kos, the poor Pentagon "will be forced to stick it to the troops and civilian personnel"? C'mon. Given the huge amount of waste in the military, and its use of taxpayer dollars to literally "pay ridiculous six-figure salaries" to defense contractor executives, I'm sure the Pentagon can find a saner way to live within its means without sacrificing our security.
"Pentagon talks layoffs, while private defense executives rake in millions"
The key is handling the reduction thoughtfully: With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down, "we can do this, and we will manage it just as we have done in the past," says Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the Army's personnel chief, quoted in the Army Times. Troop levels will largely be reduced through buyouts, retirement, and voluntary or mandatory cuts. That's all fine — as long as it doesn't happen too quickly. "It's not so important what the end number will be, but what will the ramp be to get to the final total? We don't want a steep drop off."
"Army to cut nearly 50,000 soldiers over 5 years"