By Debbie Gregory.
To cut or not to cut, that is the question. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned 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.
On July 31st, Hagel laid out a bleak set of budget options as part of a wide-ranging management review that seeks to strike a balance between capacity, in the form of troops, and technological capability.
One option is to shrink the size of the Army as the war in Afghanistan winds down, and priorities shift to protracted large-scale counterinsurgency operations.
A choice may have to be made between capacity, measured in the number of Army brigades, Navy ships, Air Force squadrons, and Marine battalions, and capability, i.e. the ability to modernize weapons systems and maintain our military”s technological edge.
Imagine the effect on U.S. manufacturing if military spending were reduced. Every time a missile is fired, it costs $750,000 to replace. Of that, some 5%, is comprised of raw materials, and the remaining $712,500 is spent on labor and manufacturing cost.
Now “sequestration” is back in the news. Sequestration is already taking a serious toll on our military readiness–and the impact is only going to get worse overtime.
Thirty Air Force squadrons have been grounded, along with aircrews and maintenance and training personnel. The graduate schools for Air Force, Navy and Marine combat aviators have been canceled.
The Army is sharply cutting training above the basic squad and platoon level. Eventually, the lack of training for our fighting men and women will become harder and harder to reverse.
Now the question for Congress to answer is “to sequester or not sequester.”