Magazine article National Defense

Post-Cold War Cuts Could Precipitate Deterioration of World-Class Force

Magazine article National Defense

Post-Cold War Cuts Could Precipitate Deterioration of World-Class Force

Article excerpt

As many of you know, strange things pop up on the Internet and in e-mail in-boxes. However, this past week the following item, troubling rather than strange, appeared on my computer screen:

What country is described by the following statistics

*709,000 regular service personnel

*293,000 reserve troops

*8 standing divisions

20 airwings with 2,000 combat aircraft

*232 strategic bombers 13 strategic ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads on 232 missiles

.500 ICBMs with 1,950 warheads

.4 aircraft carriers

.121 surface combat ships and submarines, plus all the support bases, shipyards and logistical assets needed to sustain such a Naval force?

This sounds like a formidable player on the world scene, a global super power if you will, doesn't it? Russia? ... China? ... Great Britain?

Unfortunately, the country is our own, the United States. And these are the United States military forces that have disappeared in this decade.

In effect, this is the peace dividend resulting from the end of the Cold War. These are the forces for which the taxpayer no longer must pay. Of course, these are also the forces that no longer defend the United States.

Now, we have not been able to verify the accuracy of every item on this list, but most of the figures are about right. This dramatic description of the downsizing of our forces should be sobering to us all.

You may remember that last month in this space we discussed the imbalance between mission and resources in our military. Specifically, we pointed out that our armed forces continue to be over-extended, and as a result the world-class military that we so painstakingly developed over the past several decades is beginning to deteriorate.

We said then and we reaffirm now that we need to bring the mission/resources equation back into balance. While the country may no longer require the forces that were required to counterbalance the Soviet Union, experience is beginning to show that we need a force that, while smaller, is better-better trained, better supplied, better maintained, and equipped with better technology.

The downside to this, regrettably, is that there is a price to pay to make the force "better." It takes money to sustain the world's most powerful military force-more money than the 2.9 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) that we are currently giving to defense. …

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