The Defense Department is going to have to downsize because of the bi-partisan sequestration agreement reached last year that tried to address the growing deficits and national debt. Let me clear at the outset that I want a military second to none. Period. The U.S. Army devolved into the 18th largest in the world---after Portugal and Sweden among others---after World War I. The lessons of the next war taught us that we can never afford to allow that to happen again. But that lesson does not mean that we can never cut defense spending. We should always have the weapons we need for today and tomorrow, and an armed force that can meet current and projected needs. We should always keep in mind that the greatest powers in the world---Great Britain, Holland, Spain, Portugal, the Soviet Union---among others, collapsed to a great extend because they were over extended militarily. Where and how we spend our money to protect our country and national interests has to be a large part of the equation when discussing defense.
When there was a push to increase our military presence in Afghanistan shortly after Obama became president, he asked the Secretary of Defense and all the joint chiefs, individually, if they could accomplish their mission with 30,000 troops. Each said yes. To those who suggest that they agreed out of fear for their careers, I can only ask if this is a moral failure, a failure of leadership. Considering the lives and costs at stake, it is incomprehensible to me that if there were reservations concerning too few or too many troops, these four star, flag rank officers were duty bound to speak up. I also have to believe that the unofficial pipeline would have been exploited to voice to disagreement with Obama: retired generals and admirals who have no hesitation to speak out to the media.
Now there are some who object to our withdrawing from Afghanistan on the schedule that Obama promised. They argue that it just tells the enemy when they can return. The counter to that is more persuasive in my opinion: the longer we stay the less incentive the Afghans have to take over the responsibility for their own defense. Meanwhile, a President Romney promises to increase defense spending, and our elected representatives all across the country object to closing bases and shutting down expensive weapons systems that the Pentagon says they don’t want or need. That raises the question of whether the unneeded bases and weapons are actually government funded job programs to get our spendthrift officials elected. If so, they are not doing anyone any favors, only burying us deeper in debt, and hiding that sad fact by wrapping themselves in the flag. A jobs program to buy weapons is no different than one to fix our infrastructure, something we do desperately need. But let’s be honest about what we call this spending, whether you agree with it or not.