A Radical Solution To Force Reduction Cuts

Joining the Military
Photo by Cpl Demetrius Morgan

Many reports detail Pentagon budget cuts that could have a dangerous impact on the overall readiness of our military at a time when we can least afford it. Whether it’s the rise of ISIS, the continued al Qaeda terror threat, Putin’s aggression toward Russia’s neighbors, or China’s global ambitions, the worldwide threats to America’s national interests and security are only increasing. This reality is in opposition to current domestic priorities.


Economic and budgetary pressures have forced the country to deal with large deficits. In light of 13 years of constant combat operations, one can understand the desire --- perhaps, the need --- to pull back from the world, drawdown our forces, and concentrate on our own internal issues.

Despite the seeming intractability of this conflict --- readiness to react to threats versus force sustainment capabilities --- there is a novel solution. Instead of slashing our defense roles to dangerously low levels, we can convert a large portion, if not a majority, of our forces to a reserve status.

It is a little known fact that for every one member of the active-duty military, we can fund between three and five reservists. The military could reap the required cost savings without completely hollowing out its armed forces. We currently have an entire generation of military veterans who have learned the lessons of war. This is a great resource when planning for future conflicts and for deployment on short notice if/when those conflicts arise (see the rapid response to 9/11 as an example of this requirement.)

Instead of outright cutting these people and losing that institutional knowledge, we should be trying to keep them on, but for as little cost as possible. One way to do this is to shrink our active-duty component to the minimum levels required to meet our overseas commitments and to keep a large contingent of reservists on standby who maintain their readiness at home in the event they must be called to action. And that call to action should only occur with congressional authorization, which would be granted in times of crisis or full-scale war.

In this respect, the nation would see costs savings while minimizing the reduction in readiness and the loss of valuable combat veterans. Also, in the event a major conflict erupts, we would be able to ramp up our forces and capabilities in a short amount of time.

The prospects for such a radical rethinking seem dim given the current political and cultural climate. As a nation, we seem to want to retreat from the world, and ignore the dangerous realities that surround us. We comfort ourselves by saying we have been fighting for 13 years, that we’ve done our part, that the enemy is on the run, and that we don’t have enough money. We have to “nation build” here at home, is the common refrain.

Despite our desire to make this so, the tide of conflict is not receding. In fact, it may be lapping up on our shores sooner than we expect. If we move ahead, as planned, with these proposed military cuts, how will we effectively face future challenges if there is no one left to fight?

Our security will depend on a national strategy that demonstrates vision and foresight. By slashing our military, we only dig the hole deeper. When the next war comes --- and it will come --- that will just make the climb that much steeper. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, our military was incapable of executing a significant counterattack or offensive campaign for many months, if not years, afterward because of the lack of readiness. Following Sept. 11, we were able to launch a targeted rapid response in Afghanistan, but it took years to build up our forces to conduct more significant combat operations. We must avoid these types of delay in future conflicts.

It is in our best interest to balance our wants and our needs. In our current threat environment, it’s a requirement.

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DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said "might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."

He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before entering his motorcade.

Flanked by military officials, Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan filed up a ramp leading onto a military transport aircraft, where a prayer was given to honor the memory of Scott Wirtz, a civilian Department of Defense employee from St. Louis.

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Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.

The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of American troops abroad.

The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the work of Islamic State militants.

Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.

"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.

In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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