Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Worn out

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves.

The armed forces were cut by about 30-40% after the Cold War and have declined further in size since then. They never recovered from the “procurement holiday” in the mid-1990s, when the Clinton Administration cut modernization budgets and stopped buying inventory, and they have been deploying at or close to a wartime operational tempo for close to 20 years; even before 9-11, “optempo” was much higher than anyone had anticipated.

When a force that is too small, with an aging inventory, operates for a long time at a high operational tempo, it begins to wear out.

So even before President Obama took office, the armed forces were highly stressed. One of the Administration’s first initiatives was its 780 billion dollar “stimulus” package, but – in the first and one of the biggest mistakes of his administration —  the president chose not to spend any of that money (except for a small amount devoted to military  housing) on the armed forces.

The Budget Control Act and sequester followed two years later. Those measures together cut a trillion dollars over ten years from defense funding, turning a slow bleed into a gaping wound. All of the services have shed force structure and lost readiness. Every one of the services is relying heavily on inventories that were developed during the Reagan years, and every service has basic modernization needs that cannot be funded under the current budget baseline.

The money to address those needs is simply not there, and without presidential leadership it will not be there in the future. And all of this is occurring when the threats to America’s homeland, and its vital national interests abroad, are becoming more diverse and intense: Islamic terrorism, great power aggression, nuclear proliferation, escalating armed conflict in the Middle East, and provocations by rogue states like North Korea.

Whatever else happens, the threats will continue to grow until America becomes strong again.

“Until”? He says that as if it’s anything like a sure thing. Might want to ask Once-Great Britain about that one, since we long ago decided that’s the world power we most want to emulate. His penultimate paragraph offers a solid hint at just how likely it is that we’ll “become strong again”:

For the last two decades, our leaders have neglected the armed forces, and forced them to live off the capital accumulated during the Reagan years. That capital is now gone. It would have been better, and far cheaper, to have sustained the force adequately over the last 20 years. But since that was not done, it will be necessary now to do a lot of things quickly: surge funding, reform the Pentagon so that the money is well spent, and create at least a degree of consensus across Party lines on behalf of a strong America.

Uh huh. I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting on all that if I were you.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

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