Chuck Hagel’s new proposed budget would cut the U.S. Army to pre-World War II levels.
A few defense and security links to start off the week:
The biggest news from the Pentagon this week is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s new budget plan, which is designed to refit U.S. armed forces in a manner suitable for emerging threats. Informing Hagel’s thinking on the budget is the looming drawdown from the United States’ longest ground war ever – Afghanistan. Consequently, the proposed budget would see the U.S. Army reduced in size to pre-World War II levels. The specific numbers on the horizon for the army would be around 440,000-450,000, down from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. The size reduction departs from U.S. Cold War-era strategy, when the Pentagon vehemently pursued a budget that would allow it to fight two wars simultaneously. The cuts don’t stop at the army. The U.S. Air Force will lose its entire fleet of A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft. The A-10’s greatest benefit was its ability to assist ground forces in combat. For the moment, the Navy looks like it’ll retain all 11 U.S. aircraft carriers, although Hagel has indicated that the USS George Washington could be on the chopping block should sequestration funding levels persist. Overall, the budget indicates that the Pentagon does not expect to engage in a land war anytime soon.
In other U.S. Army news, reports emerged over the weekend that the U.S. Army is working to initiate a formal dialogue with China’s People’s Liberation Army this year. The charge is being led by General Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, who sees the effort as an exercise in “managing differences constructively.” Odierno was in China this weekend where he was hosted at the Shenyang Military Regional Command in the country’s northeast by PLA Lieutenant General Wang Jiaocheng. No official dates have been set for the first meeting, but it appears that both sides are enthusiastic about the prospects of expanded military-to-military contact.