The U.S. Army is the nation’s oldest military service. It was founded in 1775 by the Continental Congress with an allocation of $2 million. The tradition remains sound, but the costs have certainly gone up.
Around the world, in environments both calm and hostile, the soldiers, sergeants, and officers of the Army have reason to be proud of the long and rich history of their institution. They and their predecessors have always responded to the call to serve and go into harm’s way. George Orwell referred to them as the rough men (and now women) who are prepared to do violence so that more gentle folk can sleep at night. General Douglas MacArthur spoke of the long line of “ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray” who would rise from the grave if ever that call to arms were not answered.
The Army will always answer the call. The question today is, will America’s leaders give them what they need when they do answer it? The military’s capability to respond properly is in question. Political decisions have put the Army and its sister services potentially at risk. This is an unwise course of action.
The automatic cuts mandated by the sequestration budget deal are looming. On top of the nearly $500 billion in cuts already directed by the Obama Administration, an additional $500 billion will be forced on the Department of Defense beginning on January 2, 2013. This will hurt readiness and will potentially damage the slowly recovering economy by adding to unemployment.
The Secretary of Defense has flatly stated that he does not want the services to even begin planning for how they will absorb the cuts, but it is foolish to think that uniformed leadership is not already formulating thoughts on how they might rationally handle this crisis. The choices would be draconian, and would likely cut into the Army more so than the other services.
For 237 years, the U.S. Army has protected the nation. On its institutional birthday, we salute the Army as a service and each of its individual members. They represent the best America has to offer. We need to ensure they always have the means to respond effectively and in a manner that minimizes risk as they continue to protect the United States.