NY Times: Obama to Propose Shrinking Military to 'Pre-World War II Level'
Monday, February 24, 2014 05:19 AM
By: Newsmax Wires
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will propose on Monday a reduction in the size of the U.S. military to its smallest size since before World War II and scrapping a class of Air Force attack jets, The New York Times reported late Sunday.
The plans, which the paper said were outlined by several Pentagon officials on condition of anonymity, would be aimed at reducing defense spending in the face of government austerity after a pledge by President Barack Obama to end U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It would leave the military capable of defeating any enemy but too small for long foreign occupations, and would involve greater risk if U.S. forces were asked to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time.
Specifically, officials acknowledged that winning such a war would take longer, and there would be a larger number of casualties.
The plan also would:
transfer the National Guard's Apache attack helicopters to the active-duty Army, which would transfer its Black Hawk helicopters to the National Guard.
create an increase in health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees and for some family members of active servicemen.
call for slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and would reduce the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries.
eliminate the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft.
retire the famed U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk.
"You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can't carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war," the Times quoted a senior Pentagon official as saying.
The Times added that some of the plans may face political opposition in Congress, but quoted the officials as saying that they had the endorsement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hagel is seeking a limit on both military pay raises and health-care benefits.
He also is looking at much less generous housing allowances, and a one-year freeze on raises for top military brass.
"Personnel costs reflect some 50 percent of the Pentagon budget and cannot be exempted in the context of the significant cuts the department is facing," Defense Department spokesman Adm. John Kirby told the Journal. "Secretary Hagel has been clear that, while we do not want to, we ultimately must slow the growth of military pay and compensation."
"This is a real uphill battle with Congress," Mieke Eoyang, director of the National Security Program at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington, told the Journal
"God bless [Hagel] for trying to get a handle on these costs," she said. "But in this political environment, in an election year, it's going to be hard for members of Congress to accept anything that's viewed as taking benefits away from troops."