Defense expert Max Boot shows in his recent op-ed how our nation’s servicemen and women will suffer under reduced defense funding. He argues that “it is obvious that there is nothing unaffordable about maintaining a military strong enough to carry out the nation’s commitments.”
America’s military preeminence has resulted from U.S. superiority in technological advancement, availability of equipment, and exceptional training of our forces. Currently, defense cuts are stripping the U.S. military of these defining qualities.
However, this trend of diminished capabilities under the pressures of budget cuts and sequestration began before this proposal.
Beginning as early as 2009, the Obama Administration began its push to downsize the U.S. military, in effect ignoring the reality that the world is still a dangerous place. As demonstrated by the Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2013, cuts to defense spending seek to shrink the size of the U.S. armed forces, not just eliminate waste. Recently, the Department of Defense released its FY 2015 Estimated Impacts of Sequestration-Level Funding, which revealed that military operations and maintenance will receive the second largest cuts.
Boot draws attention to a myriad of defense cuts in this upcoming year, among them the most significant of the reductions: those made to the Army. New cuts will demand that the Army reduce its forces to 440,000 to 450,000; however, if sequestration is not repealed, force levels will fall to 420,000 active-duty soldiers. Under these new cuts, the U.S. military will be operating at a level consistent with pre–World War II lows.
Despite these cuts, the U.S. armed forces are still expected to operate at the same level in terms of both the quality of their performance and the quantity of their commitments. Boot points out:
Yet for all the budget-cutting going on in Washington, there has been no diminution of the missions assigned to the armed forces. They are still expected to carry out all their traditional peacetime responsibilities while being prepared for unforeseen missions, such as those precipitated by the bombing of Libya in 2011 and by the disaster of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. Carrying out these smaller yet no less essential missions is becoming harder if not impossible.
The world has not changed: America will always have adversaries. Military strength has allowed America to lead the free world and bring unprecedented freedom to our time. In order to maintain the world order, the U.S. should give precedence to military technological advancement, development of equipment, and unmatched training of the armed forces. Without these investments, the U.S. will put its servicemen, and subsequently, the American people at greater risk.
Rebecca Robison is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.