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article imageOp-Ed: US Secretary of Defense attempts to curb spending over protests

By Justin King     Feb 24, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is recommending a reduction in troop numbers and cuts to specific weapons programs in an attempt to rein in the bloated budget. Senators plan to fight the proposals while the national debt is constantly rising.
The proposal will not reduce pay or benefits for the military, but rather will focus on removing outdated weapons systems and reducing the number of troops to levels that existed before World War II. In an era of constant over-spending by lawmakers who are only concerned with self-interest, it comes as no surprise that Hagel’s proposal has come under fire from lawmakers, who without any military experience of their own feel it necessary to debate Hagel over the necessity of equipment they have never used.
The Department of Defense’s (DOD) reduction in troops to 450,000 is a move that will leave America’s ability to defend itself intact, while removing its ability to conduct large scale occupations of foreign countries at whim. In this, Hagel seems to be attempting to curb politicians’ ability to use America’s warfighters as tools to advance corporate interests. Lengthy occupations tend to profit companies lawmakers are invested in.
One of the proposed weapons systems on the chopping block in Hagel’s proposal is the A-10 “Warthog.” The Warthog is an aircraft designed to destroy tanks in air-to-ground attacks. The plane was designed about 40 years ago. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has vowed to fight to keep the aircraft.
Ayotte never served in the military, but is presuming to tell the highest ranking officer in the United States military what weapons systems are needed for him to do his job. In true Washington fashion, even though Ayotte herself never served, her husband did. Predictably, he was an A-10 pilot.
One of the many A-10s currently on display in museums.
One of the many A-10s currently on display in museums.
The National Guard Association, a special interest group advocating for America’s citizen soldiers, has already expressed its disapproval of the Defense Secretary’s plan. This should be an expected move since the Guard’s Apache attack helicopters would be redeployed with active duty military units and many Air National Guard squadrons are built around the aged A-10.
Also slated to come off the DOD’s budget is the U-2 spy plane. The U-2 is a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft that was first dreamed up in 1953. It is best known for two incidents in which the surveillance plane was shot down. In 1960, Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union flying one of the planes, and in 1962 Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. suffered the same fate over Cuba.
A U-2 in flight.
A U-2 in flight.
United States Air Force
The U-2 was not without its victories historically. During the Cold War the aircraft helped disprove the theory of a “bomber gap” between the Soviet Union and the United States, and during Vietnam it provided invaluable photographic images of the battlefields. However, the U-2 entered into obsolescence in 1984 when, during a training exercise the British Royal Air Force demonstrated that the aircraft could be intercepted at 66,000 feet.
The role of this aircraft has been taken over by the massive drone fleet the United States military has acquired. There is no reason to continue to spend money training new pilots and ground crew or performing maintenance on a fleet of aircraft with a sixty-year old design.
House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Michael McCaul, also said the move would hurt the nation’s readiness. McCaul lists no military service in his biography, but does list over $220,000 in campaign contributions from the defense industry, more than $66,000 of that was in the last election cycle alone. McCaul, who was estimated to have a net worth of around $500 million in 2011, found a way to blame the poor and President Obama for the need to rid the armed services of antiquated equipment by saying
It's all being sacrificed ... on the altar of entitlements. This president cannot take on mandatory spending, so all we've done in the Congress -- and this president -- is basically cut discretionary spending.
U.S. Army s AH-64 Apache helicopter attends a live-fire exercise in Pocheon
U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache helicopter attends a live-fire exercise in Pocheon
� Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters, Reuters
Aside from fiscal considerations the practice of keeping outdated equipment in active service has led to the destruction of militaries in the past. It has occurred so often that it gave birth to the sage advice of “one does not win the next war by preparing for the last.” Bureaucrats may compare numbers of aircraft in service with a potentially hostile nation and conclude that the United States has massive air superiority while counting all of the aircraft from fifty years ago that are still on the books. Those aircraft will not be capable of standing up to more modern aircraft they encounter.
Hagel’s reduction in force is a welcome sign that the Defense Department is beginning to understand that if the immediate capability for invasion of a foreign nation that poses no actual threat to the United States is removed, policymakers will have to provide valid reasons for war rather than just relying on defense contractors to make the case for war on the nightly news.
Battles of the Iraq War
The above map illustrates the battles fought in the Iraq War as of 2007 and is based on military data.
It will no longer be as simple as gaining a quick consensus by dispersing propaganda with the knowledge that by the time the lies are discovered the nation will already be at war and that it will be too late for anyone to speak against it without appearing to be unpatriotic. Now fact-checking can be done in the time it takes to build up the troops necessary to invade a foreign country.
Hagel deserves a salute for being the first Secretary of Defense in a long time willing to go toe to toe with lawmakers and special interests groups that are intent on feathering their own nest while leaving America’s soldiers with equipment from five decades ago. The proposed cuts are the right thing for the budget and the right thing for the soldiers.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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