Earlier this week when President Obama announced his Budget for FY 2015, conservative media outlets went ballistic about the cuts in military spending. In fact, FOX News went so far as to invite Dick Cheney to discuss how “absolutely dangerous” and “over the top” these cuts are. What the defense hawks in the Republican Party do not realize is the fact that the American military needs to be outfitted for 21st century security, not 19th century land wars.
The greatest threat facing the United States today is still terrorism, the same threat we faced 13 years ago. In the years of land wars against terrorist organizations using the military tactics of the 20th Century, the United States has not nullified the threat. While there is great debate over the best method to combat terrorism throughout the world, there is no debate that the old tactics are not working. The United States does not need a standing army to combat its greatest threat; it needs a modernized 21st century army that is versatile and well equipped to handle security threats.
Looking at the 2015 budget proposal, it is evident that President Obama wants to create and implement this new army. The first step in achieving this goal is removing the symbols of 20th century thinking, especially large armies. Now, before anyone has a conniption and imagines that the U.S. Army is about to be downsized to a few hundred individuals, be aware that the U.S. Army would still be larger than the armies of Russia, China and the United Kingdom combined. Thus, the military will still be sizeable enough to handle national security threats to the U.S. homeland; it may not, however, be capable of fielding large occupation forces in foreign lands – something it shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
Over all, the new Obama budget proposal makes headway for the United States to modernize its military and to focus on creating tactical solutions to the problems we face today. All that being said, the great bluster of the conservative media over this issue is entirely a farce. Like almost every presidential budget, this too will be dead on arrival. Congress will construct its own budget, and the real negotiations will happen between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, respectively.
Whatever the result of this compromise, one can only hope that Congress, too, realizes that the U.S. military needs to adapt to the vastly changing world, and that the answer to new security challenges is not necessarily in building up the military, but rather in creating a slim, powerful and specialized force.
Contact Sid Wadhera at [email protected]