Mindful of the repeated rounds of cuts the military has already endured, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, recently delivered a grim warning: "If you want [the military] to be doing what it's doing today, then we can't give you another dollar."
His worries reflect reductions that started in 2009 and have reached crippling levels, even in President Obama's proposals to avert sequestration. I take the general at his word, but I am concerned that the president does not.
Sequester hurts national security, not just because 50% of the cuts fall on the military's 18% share of the overall budget but because the Pentagon has been the only place the president is willing to cut. For four years he has mismanaged our nation's most vital resource, our uniformed military, fomenting the sequester-inspired readiness crisis it faces today. His actions, his under-resourced strategies, accelerated withdrawal plans and lead-from-behind policies have left the Pentagon far less able to shoulder the burden of another 10% cut.
The wide swath of missions Dempsey referred to benefit Americans in varied ways. Some are obvious, like fighting terrorism; some are subtler, like patrolling our airspace and shoring up our economic security by keeping vital avenues of commerce free — on the seas and in space and cyberspace.
Those are missions the military should be able to perform without putting undue stress on the armed services as a whole. Actually, I want them to be fully prepared if they are called on to do much more. While there is no question the Pentagon was long overdue for a housecleaning, we have cut down so rapidly and so blindly that we're in danger of breaking the back of the force. Continue reading via the Los Angeles Times...