They work some of the longest, hardest hours imaginable. They sacrifice time and experiences with their families. They fight the war against terror. They risk life and limb in order to protect our country.
How do we return the favor to our troops? By cutting their numbers.
We’re not talking small numbers here, either. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is planning to reduce Army numbers to 420,000, meaning that almost one in five of those serving today will face being given the boot. Around 8,000 positions in the Marine Corps are due to be cut, and the Army National Guard and Army Rescue will be reduced by 5%.
Not Losing Just Manpower
However, it is not just troops who are on the chopping block. These cuts are in addition to numerous drastic alterations to weapons systems, including the replacement of the A-10 ‘warthogs’ belonging to the Air Force with the F-35. Black Hawks are set to replace Apache helicopters in the National Guard, as they are said to be “more suited to disaster relief than offensive duties.” The growth of destroyers within the Navy and drones within the Air Force will be slowed; smaller numbers will be introduced than previously expected. These are just some examples which we can expect to see taking effect over the next few years.
It is true that all of the cutbacks will save the government billions of dollars, at a time when the Army is “larger than we can afford to modernize and keep ready,” according to Hagel.
The 1 Percenters
Troops have been promised a whopping pay raise of 1%, although this is little consolation when they will suffer a loss in certain benefits, not to mention the cost of living increases by around 3% every year. So they’re really getting a pay cut. There will also be changes to their health care allowances, and they will be forced to pay for part of their housing out of their own pockets.
Defense vs. Offense
Naturally, this is an unpopular decision. The real doubt comes in when we consider what state the U.S. will be left in… Although the defense budget will still be the largest in the world, there is speculation that these cutbacks could turn the US military into more of a defensive vs. offensive military – although Chuck Hagel has come out and promised that these low numbers “would be capable of decisively defeating aggressions…while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater.”
“…these cutbacks could turn the US military into more of a defensive vs. offensive military.”
Once all the cuts have been made, the number of serving personnel will be at an all-time low since World War II. However, defense budget analyst Winslow Wheeler has said that the level of spending in the U.S. military will remain similar to that in 2005.
It does sound as though our backs are covered, even if those of the members of our armed forces are not. Politicians are certainly talking the talk, but they seem to be thinking of the military as a whole. They are failing to think of the 80,000 individuals in the Army alone who will lose their jobs, after giving up so much and going through things which, for most of us, don’t even bear thinking about. Even those who are lucky enough to keep their jobs won’t escape feeling the effects of the cutbacks.
Doesn’t our military deserve better than this?