Let’s focus on the impact of the all-volunteer force, not only on the country’s economic problems but also on its foreign policies. …

A repeated fear is that defense cuts will result in a “hollowing-out of the military.” As best as can be pinned down, that means reductions, whether in numbers or pay, that would leave the services without the experienced noncommissioned and mid-level commissioned officers who actually run things.

As Jo Ann Rooney, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, put it last Tuesday before the House subcommittee: “Unlike the private sector, the military services must grow their military workforce internally. It generally takes 15 to 20 years to develop the next generation of infantry battalion commanders and submarine captains.”