McCain: Pentagon cuts a big mistake

Yes they are, especially in a world where threats are multiplying, but we seem to be in retreat anyway in most of these areas. We’re leaving Afghanistan, we’ve left Iraq, and we’re not going into Syria. We didn’t even bother to put forces on alert on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 near Libya, where our aerial intervention created a failed-state paradise for al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist terrorist networks. Look how well that strategy turned out, but it doesn’t appear that the Obama administration learned any lessons from it, either.

If we’re not going to employ a forward strategy on threats, does it make sense to pay for an army designed for it?

“I believe that when we are sending the signal that we are cutting defense, I think in this very dangerous world that we live in, is a serious mistake,” McCain said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

“There are savings that could be made in defense, but when we’re making cuts this size, it concerns me a great deal especially since we’re increasing domestic spending,” McCain said.

On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a 2015 budget that would over five years shrink the Army from 520,000 troops to 440,000 to 450,000 troops. That would reduce the Army to its smallest size since before World War II.

The Pentagon also plans to reduce the size of the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the Marine Corps over the next five years.

That’s what led to the food fight between the White House and Republican governors after Barack Obama’s meeting with the National Governors Association. The states need the National Guard for more than just overseas deployments, and the cuts will hurt their ability to respond to natural disasters and other crises:

The GOP leaders were quick to say that the overall discussion was conducted with civility and respect. But they said they were offended by the way Obama handled questions about possible cuts in the National Guard — an issue that is of concern to both Republican and Democratic governors.

“The tone completely changed when we started talking about the National Guard,” Haley said.

The GOP leaders said Obama told them that many of them had asked for spending reductions and were not in a position now to complain when the budget ax hit some programs they especially favored. “It chilled the room quite a bit,” Haley said.

At some point, we need to get serious about defining the mission for the American military. Are we going to continue a forward strategy against terrorism and act as the world’s policeman? If so, then we’d better be prepared to approach those missions realistically and provide the funding to right-size the military to succeed. If we want to scale back military spending, then we need to scale back our mission, too, and perhaps focus primarily on naval strength to project American power — and start demanding more from our NATO allies on ground strength and especially logistical capabilities. Acting only in a cost-driven manner without addressing all of the issues surrounding the mission is the mistake … a huge mistake.