Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposed cuts to the Pentagon’s budget is aimed at reshaping the military post-Afghanistan. Many are taking a wait and see approach, while some lawmakers are gearing up to fight it.
This is the first such spending plan to fully reflect the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, and the transition from the last 13 years of war – the longest conflict in U.S. history.
The Army would draw down to around 445,000, the lowest mark since 1940. Hagel cites an updated defense that builds on President Obama’s 2012 defense strategic guidance. The Marine Corps would shrink from 190,00 to 182,000. The Navy would remove half of its cruisers for upgrading, and the Air Force would retire its fleet of A-10 “Warthogs,” and the U2 spy plane. Those moves, and a proposed reduction to the National Guard, are expected to draw some opposition in Congress.
“I’m very disappointed that the Obama administration is once again going after the Department of Defense,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, Republican from Chumuckla, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.
“For some reason, they don’t realize that the world situation has changed very little. And the United States cannot afford to have our in-strength numbers drawn down to the numbers that are pre-World War II.”
Miller warns that the Republican-controlled House is going to push back on Hagel’s proposals, and push back strong. The proposed cuts also contain a new round of Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) involving domestic military installations in 2017, while noting that Congress has rejected such requests in recent years.
Also listed: military pay raises, higher fees for healthcare benefits and less generous housing allowances.
Congress,am Jeff Miller, who also chairs the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, didn’t name any specific areas for offsetting cuts in Pentagon spending. But he did say that there are hundreds of federal programs that are duplicative, inefficient, and unmeasured.
Also meeting resistance in Congress is a proposal to transfer all Apache attack helicopters, which are used exclusively in combat, from the Army National Guard to the regular Army. In return, the Army would transfer to the Guard Black Hawk choppers, which can be used for transport and other domestic missions.