Pentagon Trims Defense Budget, Cuts 100,000 Ground Forces

 Pretty good.

Pentagon leaders outlined a plan Thursday for absorbing $487 billion in defense cuts over the coming decade by shrinking U.S. ground forces, slowing the purchase of a next-generation stealth fighter and retiring older planes and ships.

Republicans, predictably, are outraged.

"Taking us back to a pre-9/11 military force structure places our country in grave danger," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee that will hold hearings on the Pentagon budget plan.

Nothing would've stopped the 9-11 attacks like having three more infantry divisions, or having more stealth planes, or more aircraft carriers!

You know what might've stopped 9-11? A Republican administration that took the terrorist threat seriously and didn't ignore reports titled, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in U.S." In fact, the size of U.S. ground forces would still be larger (and unnecessarily so) than they were before 9-11.

Even with these cuts, the Pentagon is hopelessly bloated. Their 2013 budget request is $525 billion, plus another $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta projects that number to rise to $567 billion in 2017.

So how does that compare to pre-9-11 America? The Pentagon has a budget of $290 billion in 2001 (.xls file). That's the equivalent of $368 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusting for inflation.

$525 billion, no matter what idiotic Republicans say, is a hell of a lot more than $368 billion. Excessively so. It is bloated by procurement of ships, warplanes, and other weapons systems that lack an enemy to wield against. It is further bloated by maintenance of a nuclear arsenal far larger than reasonably required to act as a deterrent against any other nuclear power.

Special operations units are relatively inexpensive and directly relevant to current threats. So how about more of those, and less irrelevant and unjustifiably expensive stealth fighters and bombers?

The coming Pentagon budgets are certainly getting smaller, so this is certainly a step in the right direction. But there's much more work that needs to be done if we're to have a Pentagon that isn't a drain on natural resources, and is built around actual modern threats as opposed to fears of a Warsaw Pact assault through the Fulda Gap.

Daily Kos / By Kos | Sourced from

Posted at January 26, 2012, 10:38am

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