“We have already cut defense … about 30 percent over the last 10 years, and we’re still at war. We’re actively involved on multiple continents in real combat operations. We should not be drastically reducing our troop levels.”
That, as Bradford Richardson of The Hill reports, is the position taken by retired Admiral and former NATO Supreme Commander James Stavridis who:
… also disagreed with the president’s recent decision to pull the sole remaining aircraft carrier patrolling the Middle East out of the Arabian Gulf.
“We have 11 active nuclear aircraft carriers today in the United States Navy. It is hard for me to understand why we cannot manage a fleet of that size to maintain an aircraft carrier at all times in regions as dangerous as the Arabian Gulf.”
These are times of increasing stress on a military that is being stretched dangerously thin, which is a temptation to our enemies. Including the Russians who may not be as capable as NATO forces but:
… within small, tactical spaces, … can still be extremely disruptive. We have to stand firmly against them to deter them.”
Tough assignment in a time of 30 percent cutbacks.
In at last announcing in detail that it would reduce the size of its active-duty force, currently 490,000, by 40,000 soldiers over the next two years, the U.S. Army seems finally and for a day to have captured the attention of the political class. In fact this is not news, but the long-anticipated result of the defense budget cuts agreed to under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
A DoD News story, published on Defense.gov, claims that the "Strategy to Defeat ISIL is Working, Military Official Says."
The report reads, "The coalition and Iraqi security forces strategy to defeat and dismantle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremist group is clear and on track, the chief of staff of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today."
Lost in much of the reporting about CPAC is that almost all of the likely presidential candidates—really, all of them, with the exception of Rand Paul—seemed to place themselves at the Reaganite hawkish-internationalist end of the foreign policy spectrum. The much-heralded return of Republican isolationism or anti-interventionism wasn’t much in evidence, except during Rand Paul's half hour on the stage.
A bipartisan group of mmore than eighty influential national security experts, from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Michèle Flournoy to Bill Kristol, have written a letter to congressional leadership to urge increased defense spending.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham has launched a new political action committee for "testing the waters" for a presidential run in 2016. The Republican, in his third term, has started Security Through Strength, a PAC that bluntly describes itself as a group to "fund the infrastructure and operations allowing Graham to travel the country, listen to Americans, and gauge support for a potential presidential candidacy."
In the last five years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent over $130 million to store unused satellites from eight different satellite programs, and plans to spend another $206 million on storage over the next five years. Storage costs for individual pieces of equipment range from $40,000 up to an estimated $120 million for one particular satellite. Costs vary depending on the amount of care needed for each satellite.
The resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel creates a golden opportunity for the new Republican majority in the Congress: not only will the hearings on Hagel’s replacement be a natural venue for reviewing the defense reductions and many retreats of the Obama years, but they provide a forum for Republicans to begin to chart a positive alternative.
So Chuck Hagel has been fired as defense secretary. We were critical of his appointment, and opposed his confirmation by the Senate. But let's be clear: Hagel has done what he was asked and what was expected of him at the Pentagon. To the degree he has deviated from the Obama White House line, he's been more right than wrong (e.g., on the threat the Islamic State poses).