A Military About-Face
Barry, John, Newsweek
Byline: John Barry
Deficit cutters almost all agree that Pentagon spending will have to take a serious hit in 2011--and for the foreseeable future. The cost of defending the U.S. has doubled since 9/11, to nearly $700 billion in the current fiscal year. But what to cut? Forget the usual empty vows to "eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse." The real challenge is to identify the threats America must be ready for, and how fast, and then configure the armed forces accordingly. Those concerns come in varied form: military planners worry about China as a potential future adversary; about North Korea as a near-term threat to an important ally, South Korea; and about unpredictable long shots. What if Russia moved to reoccupy the Baltic states?
No one denies the need to be ready for such challenges, but members of Congress on both sides of the aisle want to roll back what they regard as America's overcommitments around the world. Should the Army return to high-intensity conflict and leave the task of neutralizing Al Qaeda and its allies mostly to indigenous troops trained by U.S. special forces (as is happening in Yemen)? …