Pentagon Budget Ends Post-9/11 Era:
Ushers in Pacific Era
John T. Bennett
Ground Forces Cut, Naval and Air 'Thrive'
Pentagon brass previewed a budget Thursday that formally ends the post-9/11 era by cutting ground forces and prioritizing investments in air and naval combat systems.
The budget "prioritizes" and "protects," as Panetta said, weapon platforms like a new long-range bomber, aerial tankers, naval destroyers and aircraft carriers, submarines and makes only
modest production changes to the F-35 fighter program. All are the kinds of combat systems needed in the massive
The Obama administration is proposing shrinking the
"Those demands are now going down," said Dempsey, a former
"The brute force of boots on the ground has given way to the more tailored use of special operators, cyber power, and standoff naval and air forces,"
"Reducing ground forces is something that needs to happen and always does at the end of wars. U.S. ground forces remain globally superior and are globally deployable, unlike those of any other country," Adams said. "The
Adams also noted the Obama administration, by continuing to ramp up funding for U.S. special operations forces, expects more "rapid, small missions are the more likely use of our military-rather than regime-change, stabilization/occupation/nation-building missions like
But that does not mean Adams quite understands the rationale for doing so: "What is unanswered is where and why all these special forces need to be used; that debate remains to be had." Special operations forces perform numerous secretive raids regularly in
Panetta made clear the Pentagon is steeling for a fight in the Pacific, but he also previewed what stands to be a year-long fight with
He noted lawmakers' inability last year to craft a debt-reduction bill that included government-wide spending cuts brought about the last-minute deal that was the Budget Control Act. That measure mandated the
While Panetta was focused on avoiding the next round of cuts, hawkish congressional Republican leaders expressed outrage over the cuts in the 2013 spending plan.
Notably, McKeon's statement was not directed at Panetta or Pentagon officials-but at President
"The President has abandoned the defense structure that has protected America for two generations," McKeon said. "This move ignores a critical lesson in recent history: that while high technology and elite forces give America an edge, they cannot substitute for overwhelming ground forces when we are faced with unforeseen battlefields."
The veteran House Republican's sharp tone made clear an election-year fight is brewing over the Pentagon budget and Obama's vision for a lighter, smaller, more agile military.
"These cuts reflect President Obama's vision of an America that is weakened, not strengthened, by our men and women in uniform," McKeon said, promising "rigorous oversight" by his panel. "This is a vision at odds with the president's empty praise on Tuesday evening, and one I fundamentally disagree with. To be clear, the impacts of these cuts are far deeper than
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