Obama to cut “tens of thousands of ground troops” from military

posted at 9:20 am on January 5, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The last time the US did this, we at least had the illusion of a “peace dividend” and unrivaled supremacy as the world’s only superpower.  Now we’re fighting a tough war in Afghanistan, and China’s expanding its military might, if not its belligerence yet.  According to Reuters, Barack Obama will unveil plans to downsize ground troops by “tens of thousands” while investing more in air and naval power:

The Obama administration will unveil a “more realistic” vision for the military on Thursday, with plans to cut tens of thousands of ground troops and invest more in air and sea power at a time of fiscal restraint, officials familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.

The strategic review of U.S. security interests will also emphasize an American presence in Asia, with less attention overall to Europe, Africa and Latin America alongside slower growth in the Pentagon’s budget, the officials said.

Though specific budget cut and troop reduction figures are not set to be announced on Thursday, officials confirmed to Reuters they would amount to a 10-15 percent decline in Army and Marine Corps numbers over the next decade, translating to tens of thousands of troops.

The most profound shift in the strategic review is an acceptance that the United States, even with the world’s largest military budget, cannot afford to maintain the ground troops to fight more than one major war at once. That is a move away from the “win-win” strategy that has dominated Pentagon funding decisions for decades.

This is a curious direction to take while our troops are still in Afghanistan.  Obama increased the commitment there by “tens of thousands,” a good call, but an escalation that isn’t due to reverse until two years from now.  One would expect that the US would want to make clear that we retain the ability to maintain those troop levels and could extend our commitment at any time if we so choose, so as not to embolden our enemies and make them think that our ability to wage war has been degraded.

It’s also curious because of the complaint often heard from Democrats during the Bush administration of overextending troop deployments through stop-loss, and the overuse of National Guard forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The reason for both was that the current level of funding for troops was not high enough to support two extended, small-to-medium sized conflicts at the same time while keeping our security commitments around the world.  That’s not even the “win-win,” two-major-simultaneous-wars paradigm that “dominated Pentagon funding decisions” during the Cold War, but ended during Bill Clinton’s presidency.  The rapid redeployment schedules used in the last decade showed that we may not be prepared to fight one major ground war, let alone two, for an extended period of time.

Of course, we avoid those wars through the use of our dominating naval and air power, and China has become a long-term threat in the Pacific to the former.  We do need to invest in bolstering our Pacific fleet, and we should reconsider our security arrangements with western Europe, which can and should shoulder the costs of their own security.  Those are healthy areas for consideration, but cutting tens of thousands of troops sounds like a dangerous direction for the US at this time.


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Undermining our ability to defend the nation once again.

Axion on January 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

tom on January 5, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Dante is a Ronulan. No Alighieri whatsoever.

spiritof61 on January 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

We must get Obama out of office this cycle, he just doesn’t know what he is doing.

Dollayo on January 5, 2012 at 9:44 AM

You are wrong, kind friend. He knows exactly what he is doing.

silvernana on January 5, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Obama must not want poor people to go to college since this is the only way some can afford it.

Scrappy on January 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM

The rapid redeployment schedules used in the last decade showed that we may not be prepared to fight one major ground war, let alone two, for an extended period of time.

The only major ground war we should be prepared in advance to fight would be one on American soil, and we are quite capable of doing that very well.

There is absolutely no sense in fighting protracted ground wars when we will not fight to win. I would have thought we would have learned that by now. A half century of failures should have taught us.

We won Vietnam and then gave it away because we had no real will to win it. We won the Gulf War and then we wouldn’t finish off Saddam, and then we lost Iraq to Iran. We are losing Afghanistan to the Taliban.

How long does this insanity go on before we figure out that the whole point of war is to identify and kill your enemy, not to convince the enemy you are nice guys by helping the populations supporting them to build bridges and schools?

fadetogray on January 5, 2012 at 3:56 PM

silvernana on January 5, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Agreed…wholeheartedly, if not halfheartedly…

MooCowBang on January 5, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Three years ago I would think I was losing it for thinking what I’m thinking, but
(1) He kills only anti-Iranian dictators
(2) He turns Iraq over to Iran by failing to even contact Iraq over the agreement to keep ground forces in the country…purposeful incompetence
(3) He refuses to support dissidents in Iran
(4) He actively works to subvert Israeli security
(5) He works to insure the “super committee” fails and insures automatic cuts to defense
(6) He declares the Taliban isn’t our enemy
(7) He dismantles the military

He’s setting us up. This is the “dreams” of his father. Destroy the West.

People woke up for a short spell in 2010. I’m very afraid they’ve gone back to sleep. Romney is not up to the job but everyone from Karl Rove to Bill O’Reilly and the National Review and even Ann Coulter are ready to annoint a vapid, vanilla ken doll as our nominee. I’m very afraid.

Portia46 on January 5, 2012 at 3:58 PM

will this also be done unconstitutionally?

John Kettlewell on January 5, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Was there an implied sarc tag on that or do you misunderstand what I said?

dentarthurdent on January 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I have a Masters degree in sarcasm. My sarcasm is so good it doesn’t need an indicator. But I am having trouble paying my school loans.

BobMbx on January 5, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Not getting the attention it should… Obama giving SM-3 missile secrets to Russian Engineers.

Egfrow on January 5, 2012 at 2:33 PM

It’s par for the course for Dem presidents – Clinton to the Chinese, Obama to Russia.

silvernana on January 5, 2012 at 4:04 PM

and all those men and women will be rewarded for their service by joining the ranks of the unemployed and will be looking for jobs. Odumbo is one dumb bastard.

ultracon on January 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM

How long does this insanity go on before we figure out that the whole point of war is to identify and kill your enemy, not to convince the enemy you are nice guys by helping the populations supporting them to build bridges and schools?

fadetogray on January 5, 2012 at 3:56 PM

It will continue as long as this nation is governed by duly elected fools.

spiritof61 on January 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Xie Xie

The People’s Republic of China
“Your Future Overlords”

spiritof61 on January 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

a 10-15 percent decline in Army and Marine Corps numbers over the next decade

I’m all for doubling it to 20-30% and pushing its completion up to 2013 if it’s part of a “comprehensive-plan” that cuts 20-30% of non-military federal workers and a 20-30% of entitlements that balances the budget in 2 years.

elfman on January 5, 2012 at 4:38 PM

When was the last time we were attacked?

A long time ago (although technically, 1988–the embassy bombings).

I credit the military.

HeatSeeker2011

It wasn’t that long ago. Iran has been attacking us in Iraq almost from day one.

xblade on January 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Prussia? That’s it? That’s all you could come up with? I thought there were “some nations”?

Trafalgar on January 5, 2012 at 2:46 PM

There are, but only one is needed to make the point. Why are you hung up on this, as if you’re denying history and facts?

Dante on January 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM

I expected dear leader to cut the military at some point. He needs the dough to hand out to the less fortunate among us and pay for all his giveaway programs. He praised the troops for their service and then said for them to now get lost. He did say one thing when he said that Leon and Marty would provide the details and that he gave them the direction, so he owns whatever happens.

Kissmygrits on January 5, 2012 at 4:59 PM

No worry – Obama’s muslim brethren will take good care of the Middle East for us.

JFS61 on January 5, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Yes, ‘cos there’s only a million-man army staring down the South Koreans, just itching for us to leave.

Trafalgar on January 5, 2012

…and 20-30K G.I.s are going to make a difference? The only reason those troops (and close to 50K in civilian dependents and workers) are in South Korea is as a “good faith” tripwire ensuring that we will go to war (and really, nuclear is about the only tool we have in that toolbox)

No president, even the current one, could resist the national outrage at the death of that many Americans without reacting. They are and have mostly been a pawn since the 50′s.

On top of that most S. Koreans have been demanding we leave for decades, mostly because they want to take over what is now prime real estate occupied by our forces, but some for nationalistic reasons.

Pull ‘em out and promise we’ll come to their aid, but reduce what will be a horrific slaughter of our troops and families.

E9RET on January 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM

U.S. military officials often talk about preparing for a conflict in the Pacific–without mentioning who they might be fighting. The situation resembles a Harry Potter novel in which the characters refuse to utter the name of their adversary…”You can’t say China’s a threat. You can’t say China’s a competitor.”

WSJ
1/4/12

The Obama Legacy in our armed services. Sound familiar?

spiritof61 on January 5, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Prussia? That’s it? That’s all you could come up with? I thought there were “some nations”?

Trafalgar on January 5, 2012 at 2:46 PM
There are, but only one is needed to make the point. Why are you hung up on this, as if you’re denying history and facts?

Dante on January 5, 2012 at 4:52 PM

We’ve had a relationship Prussia since 1835 except two time periods from 1917-1921 and 1941-1955.

RickB on January 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM

It is a common mistake, but like many others you are mistaking non-interventionism for isolationism. They are not synonymous. Neither Rand Paul nor his father, Ron, think there is no need for military forces. I don’t know Rand’s positions, but Ron Paul believes in a strong military to defend our borders, as do I.

Dante on January 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

My mistake on Rand vs Ron – I meant Ron – brain fart.

I understand the difference between non-intervention and isolation. I’m trying to get a better understanding of where you’re sitting on the sliding scale between those 2 – as a result of some of your earlier comments. I personally believe we should NOT be involved all around the world, that we should be less interventionist. BUT we do need to have some limited forces in various places, for reasons I stated previously (notably spacetrack and satellite control stations, and prepositioning of some forces) and those capabilities need to be defended – to what degree depends on where they are. How and to what degree we need to defend our commerce and “national interests” around the world and ensuring “right of transit” are very fuzzy gray areas that we could all debate til the end of time.

dentarthurdent on January 5, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I have a Masters degree in sarcasm. My sarcasm is so good it doesn’t need an indicator. But I am having trouble paying my school loans.

BobMbx on January 5, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Good to know.

dentarthurdent on January 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Obama must not want poor people to go to college since this is the only way some can afford it.

Scrappy on January 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Very valid point – especially since the Dems are the ones who always fight to kill school voucher programs – which allow poor people to put their kids in the privates schools that the rich Dems all put their kids in.

dentarthurdent on January 5, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Care to explain why we should be taking taxpayer dollars, legitimately spent on our national and domestic protection, and using them to “invest” in industry, especially given this administration’s spectacularly bad record of business “investments” with our money?

Trafalgar on January 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM

No. I’d rather explain that if my tax rates were lower, I could afford to invest MY money in money-making endeavors, rather than have it stolen from me and GIVEN to other countries.

Not too mention, INCREASE our national security by creating and expanding our technological, manufacturing and energy producing infrastructure, rather than shipping it all overseas….to our enemys, or friends of them.

KMC1 on January 5, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Sure go ahead with the cuts. Start with withdrawing forces from Europe and then start cutting the bloated bureaucracy at the Pentagon. Fire a few Admirals and Generals and their staff.

After you realize the savings there maybe you won’t have to cut anywhere else.

banzaibob on January 5, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Have mixed feelings about this as I believe in a large military, and don’t think Dear Leader is proposing this with our national interests at heart.

On the other hand, we’ve been indirectly subsidizing the Socialistic programs for so many of these other countries by filling in the gaps in their national defense due to their lower military spending per their GDP.

Also, if military installations stateside are downsized or closed, you’re going to have all manner of wailing by affected politicians of both parties and local chambers of commerce. Like it or not, these bases are a de facto form of wealth redistribution-that is, they perk up local economies big time via Federal spending.

Another thing is, we’re going to hear Washington about not having “enough boots on the ground” the next time around.

Of course, we avoid those wars through the use of our dominating naval and air power, and China has become a long-term threat in the Pacific to the former.

and somehow I don’t think the Chinese PLA and the PlAAF would be as much of a pushover as the Iraqi army and air forces.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 5, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Remember how the Dems love to blame Ronald Reagan for running up deficits? Much of this was done restoring our military to its needed capabilities.

If they think it was too expensive then, wait until you see what it will cost to rebuild what President Urkel is destroying.

bartonbulletin on January 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Remember how the Dems love to blame Ronald Reagan for running up deficits? Much of this was done restoring our military to its needed capabilities.

If they think it was too expensive then, wait until you see what it will cost to rebuild what President Urkel is destroying.

bartonbulletin on January 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

I can just see this buffoon saying “Did I do that???” in Urkel’s voice.

rgrovr on January 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Remember how the Dems love to blame Ronald Reagan for running up deficits? Much of this was done restoring our military to its needed capabilities.

If they think it was too expensive then, wait until you see what it will cost to rebuild what President Urkel is destroying.

bartonbulletin on January 5, 2012 at 7:11 PM

And if you take a hard look at the spending increases during the Reagan era, you’ll find that while Reagan pushed to increase the military budget, by far the largest increases in spending were on the entitlement and civilian agency side pushed by the Dems who controlled Congress. Reagan had to allow the Dems to increases the spending they wanted in order to get the defense spending he wanted.

dentarthurdent on January 5, 2012 at 7:57 PM

Business as usual at DOD: Cut muscle; grow fat.

vermin on January 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

For those demanding we leave South Korea, we are still technically at war with North Korea. The war never ended; we only negotiated a truce.

FirelandsO3 on January 5, 2012 at 9:24 PM

The military has been growing at a staggering pace over the last ten years. This is an encouraging move by Obama, while I really despise him.

Look at this frightening chart of military spending over the last 60 years! We blew by peak Cold War levels!! Stop the madness.

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/draghi/defense%20budget.jpg

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 10:48 PM

This is what happened after WWII. The military was drastically down size and was totally unprepared for Korea. The Clinton administration was equally guilty of destroying the military. There wasa a time when we had to borrow bullets from the marksmanship unit because the Army didn’t have bullets for our annual small arms qualification. The Army didn’t have enough bullets!!! In order to do Battalion maneuvers, we had to borrow tanks from other units because there were not enough spare parts for us to field our own tanks. However, Clinton did make it his first priority to allow gays into the military.

DAT60A3 on January 5, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Um, Bueller? We’re spending far beyond peak cold war levels.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_26144d69-ada7-5a12-9585-072d126bb4c1.html

The defense budget grew to $708 billion in 2011 from $316 billion in 2001. Federal spending on homeland security, which includes everything from airport security to border control, also rose dramatically. Last year dozens of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, spent $70 billion on such programs, according to the Office of Management and Budget. That’s up from $37 billion in 2003, the first year after DHS was formed.

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Undermining our ability to defend the nation once again.

Axion on January 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

So the military is a black hole that we just shovel money into, without any foresight? Hmmm. That sounds alot like the mentality which led to the failed stimulus.

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Don’t forget, everyone…

Herr Doktor wants to not only ‘cut’ the military – but gut it.

And all to pay for social welfare and entitlements.

catmman on January 5, 2012 at 12:30 PM

He pisses me off when he talks like this for the record.

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 10:59 PM

I would be ok with this ONLY IF the saving is used to pay down the debt!
Benefits and on the ground costs are way more than machines, so automating part of our security resources follows a business model really…it’s what every other business does in the technology age! I know you guys had jokes on that, but that’s what banks did with ATM machines. Actually, if it was legal or had any other benefit, in order to cut cost, we would do like the IBMs and GEs by outsourcing [soldiers] from low cost countries….you get the point.
So I’m not against this in principle (I’m not against every single thing The One does, and I’m not of the school that Dems are demons) — I want a balance budget!
Can.I.be.in.the.middle on January 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Of course, but Obama is just freeing up revenue for his domestic payoffs. That’s the sad part of all this. All the military savings will be directed into some scheme.

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 11:04 PM

There are Democratic priorities, and then there are Constitutional priorities…

unclesmrgol on January 5, 2012 at 11:46 PM

A possible positive view. Sending hundreds of thousands of young patriots to a non existent job market. Their absentee votes have been blocked by democrats as exemplified by the 2000, 2004 elections. This time these much more conservative voters have their votes counted. Anybody but Obama.

scboy on January 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM

He is a traitor as is everyone of his administration . . .

Capt-Dax on January 6, 2012 at 10:01 AM

This time these much more conservative voters have their votes counted.
scboy on January 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM

As long as they are not sent home to the “swing” states, they will not become difference makers. Remember who will be “the one” selecting which ones are sent back to the job market.

This is simple pandering to the Paul constituency. Knowing that his constintuency is motivated (they will vote) and that Paul won’t be on the ballot, “the one” figures that they will come vote his way in the end.

Carnac on January 6, 2012 at 12:19 PM

If they only let girls run wars, everything would be all hunky dory.

Lily on January 5, 2012 at 12:29 PM

“For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.” :)

mnealtx on January 6, 2012 at 4:39 PM

But we’d be getting into a new war around the same time every month…..

dentarthurdent on January 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Um, Bueller? We’re spending far beyond peak cold war levels.

Pitchforker on January 5, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Um, Bueller? A “hot war” costs more than a “cold war”.

mnealtx on January 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

I assume this means we’re going to dispense with the lunacy about there being a pressing national security interest in recruiting gays, right?

vermin on January 6, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Portia46 on January 5, 2012 at 3:58 PM

As well you should be.

Mr. Grump on January 6, 2012 at 6:43 PM

There’s something else that just might be significant, here. A smaller, less well-equipped army would be much easier to control when B. Hussein’s “National Security Force” (S.S.) is established. Sounds crazy, I know, but what IS going on with these FEMA “camps” being set up around the country?

ofbbg on January 7, 2012 at 2:06 PM

E9RET on January 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Right on, Top!
It’s long past time that we made others defend themselves: unless and until it gets dicey. Then, let loose the ghost of Truman.
Thermonuclear this time.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM

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