I am deeply concerned that the size and scope of these cuts would repeat the mistakes of history and leave our forces too small to respond effectively to events that may unfold over the next few years.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) released a statement saying:
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 fault in that line of thinking was displayed in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we quickly found out there was no substitute for a humble rifleman to impose our will on the enemy at bayonet point. Now the Obama administration is fooling itself into thinking we will never have to fight another major ground war again.
The notion that the Obama administration’s cuts to previously proposed budget numbers — which on average over the next two years actually increase the budget but, accounting for inflation, amounts to holding spending steady — are setting up a U.S. inability to fight a ground war or prepare for the next conflict doesn’t hold water. Even if the full amount of nearly $950 billion in reductions are enacted — if sequestered cuts are added to the ones outlined yesterday — the military budget would still be at 2007 levels, when the U.S. was fighting two ground wars.
Furthermore, McClatchy newspapers today notes that “planned reduction in ground forces by 2017 would still leave a larger military than before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” And Center for a New American Security fellow Andrew Exum points out that hardware is much harder to scale up than troop levels should a war arise: “[I]n the event of a major war, you can recruit and train new infantry battalions quicker than you can design and build ships.”