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05 January 2012

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Green Zone Cafe

I'm always sad to see drawdowns in Europe. Whatever the strategic merits of bases in Germany, Italy and Spain are (and there are some, at least strengthening ties to NATO), they've been great opportunities for troops and their families to see Europe, eat some good food, and broaden their cultural and social horizons.

An Army wholly garrisoned in places like Killeen, Lawton and Fayetteville will be different from one which does tours in Friedberg and Vicenza.

William R. Cumming

I would advocate total withdrawal from NATO!

Jake

"It also says the United States will continue working to halt nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea."

I would like to see, India, Pakistan and Israel added to this work in progress....

Mike Martin, Yorktown VA

It's good to see Rumsfeld's nocturnal emission about fighting two wars at once left behind as well. One can hear the howling already from the Beltway crowd, too.

The Moar You Know

Mixed feelings. These developments will lead, sooner or later, to me being unemployed. Given what I do, and my age, this may well be the last professional job I have. I suppose I can always go back to woodworking.

On the other hand, I have recognized for most of my adult life that we cannot continue to foot the bill for the world's police force. Assuming a best case scenario, this bill will be getting paid until well after my as yet unborn grandchildren are dead and buried. To say "the Republic can't afford this" is to slander with understatement; we couldn't afford it back in 1985 when I got out of high school, and it has gotten much more expensive since those days.

In the end I must be an optimist. America will be the better for this.

JohnH

I'll believe DOD reductions I see them. The game is to loudly announce cuts. But when projections are actually released, projected cuts are to be made against an artificial, "expected" growth in spending. Then when actual budgets are finally prepared, increases in spending continue unabated.

If you look at Obama's recent budget requests and future projections, that scenario is exactly what happened. Cuts to defense spending have been just around the corner (a couple years out) for years now.

The same thing happened in Britain. Cameron chose to cut defense spending along with everything else. It was deemed good politics to have defense perceived as "sharing the burden." Except for the fact that defense spending rose 5% last year! And everything else got cut.

For those who believe that Obama is actually going to cut
defense spending, please contact me about my discount price on the Brooklyn Bridge.

graywolf

That's not an Army.
That's a tour group.
Reminiscent of the State Dept.; exotic vacations paid for by the taxpayer.

Fred

I agree. Regardless of the merits of soldiers seeing other cultures I'd rather see them spend their salaries in the US. As to training foreign troops, we should do that by bringing them here so they can see what our way of life really is. Let their government spend their money in our country for once.

Adam L Silverman

Fred: we already have officers and non-commissioned officers from other countries' armed forces attending our professional military educational (PME) schools at all levels of PME. We added a third more international fellows here at USAWC this year over last year with even more increases in their numbers slated for next year. There are diplomatic, civil-military, and multi-national operations reasons for this.

Marina

Like other recent gimmicks, this is an Obama campaign tactic. His 2013 budget request is meaningless. Congress hasn't passed an Obama budget in over 900 days. They won't make any appropriations until after the election. So we're in for almost a year of politicians and elites bashing each other over the head about defense spending and national priorities. As it should be.

mbrenner

Colonel

What is your take on the skepticism voiced by a few commentators to the effect that the shortage of well trained ground troops in the past never has deterrred the United States from committing itself to wars that required troops at levels well above what then was available.

turcopolier

mbrenner

This strategic shift is not a declaration of eternal pacifism. It is not a declaration of anything except an analysis of the world situuation that requires a restructuring of our forces. A force build-up? Always possible but this requires a couple of years. pl

turcopolier

graywolf

Incomprehensible. Ever been in an army? pl

Green Zone Cafe

It's not a "tour group" if you're deploying to Afghanistan every 18 months, and training at Grafenwhoer in between. You can train just as hard in Germany as in Georgia. It's just a better off-duty environment. Why shouldn't the troops be able to live in nice places? Most of the Army is in bleak culturally barren parts of the USA now. I suppose Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs and Ft. Lewis somewhat near Seattle are the best of the major posts. No more Ft. Ord or Ft. Devens.

As for the State Department, the biggest embassy is in Baghdad, with Kabul and Islamabad close behind. Sure, Staties get to live in Paris and London. They also get to live in Niamey, Lagos, Malabo and Ashgabat.

There's a certain type of miserable rightist who's only happy when everyone who works for government is unhappy.

turcopolier

GZC

I don't know what GW meant but Afghanistan is going away and Germany, Italy, etc. are parts of NATO commitments that are more expensive than CONUS garrisons. What purpose does NATO serve now ? Then there is every reason to think that the present number of ground forces are too large for projected threats. pl

jerseycityjoan

How is the rest of the world taking this?

Are the NATO nations, Japan and South Korea hearing what we are saying, which is that they'll need to do more for themselves?

How do you expect our First World allies (and long term parasites) will respond?

There's things that we've been doing for years and paying for that should continue to be done, but we should not continue to pay for. How can we start sharing expenses with the rest of the world, particularly those countries who can afford to contribute?

Frankly I also have doubts if Americans realize that we just can't go on picking up the check for everything. For one thing, they are used to things as they are. They do not realize how much we've deprived ourselves through the years by spending so much more on defense and healthcare than anybody else. This is something that has become very clear to me over the past few years and that I want to see rectified.

It seems funny when you think about it, that one of our biggest challenges is getting ourselves to stop spending trillions on healthcare and defense activities that are either ineffective or unnecessary or should be partially paid for by others, but it's true.

Jake

Israel is taking it just fine....

US commander visits Israel to finalize missile drill
http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=250249

Hell we are even going to set up a new US Command in Israel.... How stupid can we be?

confusedponderer

"Are the NATO nations, Japan and South Korea hearing what we are saying, which is that they'll need to do more for themselves?"

Whenever the EU tried to develop capabilities of their own the US started to display an abivalent attitude. Yes, burden sharing means we would have to spend more, but we'd please subordinate whatever we procured under NATO and under the command of a top US general. When we did something to create capabilities so far unique to the US, and created a EU command, the US neo-cons in particular (but not exclusively) began to howl at the moon, uttering that we were undermining NATO, us being a near term competitor (like China) that must not be allowed to rise (i.e. was yet another threat to be dealt with at some later point) etc pp.

IMO Bush riding rough shot with NATO, dismissing any dissent with the US view as something bordering to treason ('with us or against us'), did more to undermine NATO than all disappearing threats have. For the Bushmen, America's NATO allies were to salute smartly and pump troops, money and treasure in America's little projects like Iraq and Afghanistan, with little say if any. We were to be their European auxiliaries. I don't want that role for my country.

Also, you're not assuming that US spending levels are reasonable, are you? For US politicos, in particular but not exclusively on the right, military spending is something akin to a fetish. The result is the US outspending the next 15 or so high spending countries put together.

US spending levels haven't been reasonable for a long time and probably still aren't even after Obama's cuts. The rest of the world may have to do more, and probably will, just not nearly as much as the US spends.

The Bush administration administered over ground troop increases in order to provide the manpower needed for Iraq and Afghanistan. With these wars being slowly abandoned, reasonably I think, the requirement for these troop levels is disappearing.

I see the immediate benefit of the US focusing on Asia in Japan and Korea not getting into an arms race with each other and the Chinese. The US presence in that regard is stabilising.

TWit

"It's just a better off-duty environment."
- That's the fundamental issue here isn't it! It's better because German (and even Italian) roads are not falling apart, they have public transportation, they have a society that is actually friendly and supportive of women and children, and not everything is a MFing chainstore. If we start refocusing some of the trillions we spend on 'defense' on making our own country better, I guarantee the off-duty environment for soldiers will be just fine no matter where there are based.

William R. Cumming

mbrenner! Lack of adequate ground forces is never a determinant for the USA since the Navy and Air Force and Marines all will argue--"Can do Sir"!

Perhaps the new National Guard voice on the Joint Chiefs will provide some honest assessment of ground force capability. Perhaps not!

Probably time for a 21st Century version of the Marian Reforms of the 1st BCE Roman reform allowing nonproperty holders to join the Legions. But in this case just allow automatic citizenship for all who give three (3) years of honorable service to the USA in its active ground forces.

Green Zone Cafe

NATO serves the purpose of stability, as long as it's not expanded into places like Ukraine or Georgia. With the Euro crisis, you can see the problems and tensions with the European Union structure. Who knows what might happen in 20 years between Russia, Turkey, and the rest of Europe? Keep Americans in Vicenza and Baumholder, it's a small price to pay.

J

GZC,

Aw cmon, don't dis Ashgabat, and all that good Turkmen cookin. And please don't dis all that dutar music playin. Gold music to my ears. And don't forget that its just a skip and jump to Mashad.

Then there is also all that good cookin in Baku just across the lake.

Eric Dönges

jerseycityjoan,

I take issue with your "parasite" comment - the U.S. willingly placed itself into this position because it (rightly) assumed that any country depending on the U.S. for its security would be a lot more amendable to U.S. interests. American largese generally comes with lots of strings attached (unless you are a certain small middle eastern country) - and there is nothing wrong with that, because whoever pays the piper calls the tune. Just be prepared for somebody else calling the tune if you no longer want to foot the bill.

turcopolier

GZC

"NATO serves the purpose of stability" Yes. That's the company line. "Who knows what might happen in 20 years between Russia, Turkey, and the rest of Europe?" Why should we care? pl

turcopolier

WRC

The point of the new strategy as part of "PPB" is a judgment that national policy has changed with regard to land mass wars, and that judgment is that we are not going to fight them and that ground forces of the size we have now are unnecessary.

I contest your notion that recruiting will fall off because of reduction of pay and benefits. The reduced force size will, IMO, allowa retention of those emoluments. That was implicit in the president's statement that we will stick with the volunteer force. Not muc choice there anyway. There are few enemies left for which a fight with mass, half trained armies like those of WW2, Korea or VN would be a good idea. pl

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