America: Unprepared for War

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


4401592829_ddb5cd5dd5A bipartisan critique of the Obama administration’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) by the National Defense Panel is a devastating takedown of the administration’s determination to reduce America’s military to pre-WWII levels. “Since World War II, no matter which party has controlled the White House or Congress, America’s global military capability and commitment has been the strategic foundation undergirding our global leadership,” the report states. “Given that reality, the defense budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, coupled with the additional cuts and constraints on defense management under the law’s sequestration provision, constitute a serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States.”

The report emphasizes the myriad number of threats of which most Americans are well aware, including “a troubling pattern of assertiveness and regional intimidation on China’s part, the recent aggression of Russia in Ukraine, nuclear proliferation on the part of North Korea and Iran, a serious insurgency in Iraq that both reflects and fuels the broader sectarian conflicts in the region, the civil war in Syria, and civil strife in the larger Middle East and throughout Africa.”

Other threats include the “rapidly expanding availability of lethal technologies to both state and non-state actors; demographic shifts including increasing urbanization; diffusion of power among many nations, particularly rising economic and military powers in Asia; and heated competition to secure access to scarce natural resources.”

It further noted that the shrinkage of U.S. forces, resulting from the severe budget cuts imposed on our fighting forces constitutes a “serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States,” and that force levels in the president’s QDR are “inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment.”

The panel was also critical of the president’s reduction of the nation’s global mission has long enabled the military to fight two wars simultaneously, to one where we are capable of defeating one enemy while keeping another one in check. “We find the logic of the two-war construct to be as powerful as ever and note that the force sizing construct in the 2014 QDR strives to stay within the two-war tradition while using different language. But given the worsening threat environment, we believe a more expansive force sizing construct — one that is different from the two-war construct but no less strong — is appropriate,” the report stated. It called on Obama to expand his current mission statement—one driven far more by budget concerns than global threats.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) addressed the misplaced priorities. “It is the same conclusion many Americans have already reached,” he said. “There is a cost when America does not lead, and there are consequences when America disengages. What the president fails to understand — which the report points out — is that a strong military underwrites all other tools our nation has for global influence.”

The report, which concludes that the “Navy and Air Force should be larger,” reveals that we are moving in the opposite direction. It explains that the Navy is “on a budgetary path to 260 ships or less,” giving them far fewer ships than 323 to 346 previously recommended. The report further notes that an even larger fleet could be necessary “if the risk of conflict in the Western Pacific if increases.”

An even grimmer picture of the Air Force emerges, with the report explaining that it is currently fielding the “smallest and oldest force in its history,” despite the need to project a “global surveillance and strike force able to rapidly deploy to theaters of operation to deter, defeat or punish multiple aggressors simultaneously.”

The panel understands the fiscal challenges facing the government, but states that attempting to solve those problems on the backs of the military is not only “too risky,” but “won’t work.” “America must get her fiscal house in order while simultaneously funding robust military spending,” the panel concludes. In a shot across the administration’s bow, the panel explains that health care spending in the military and overall is “stunning wasteful,” consuming “more than a third of the federal budget.”

It’s actually worse than that, if one includes benefits and entitlements, driven primarily by “non-means tested government programs,” defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those that provide benefits to Americans regardless of their income levels. In 2013, the federal government paid out more than $2 trillion in such programs, which consumed 58.1 percent of the $3.4 trillion in total federal outlays. In the first eleven months of FY2013 the federal government received a record-setting $2.4 trillion in revenue, yet still ran a deficit of $755 billion. This year revenues are expected to top $3 trillion, but the deficit is still projected to be $648 billion.

Clearly something has to give. Unfortunately as far as the Obama administration is concerned, the welfare state, rather than the military that makes it possible, takes precedence.

In fact, the administration has recently put the pedal further to the metal. At the beginning of the month, the Army announced it will downsize the number of majors by 550, including some still serving in combat operations in Afghanistan. This move follows another recent effort to slash 1,200 captains from the force as well. “The ones that are deployed are certainly the hardest,” Gen. John Campbell, the vice chief of the Army told reporters. “What we try to do there is, working through the chain of command, minimize the impact to that unit and then maximize the time to provide to that officer to come back and do the proper transition, to take care of himself or herself, and the family.”

The cuts are being made among majors who joined the service between 1999 and 2003, and while some will have enough time on the job to retire, many won’t. The effort is all part of the aforementioned move by the Obama administration to reduce the size of the military from its current level of 514,000 soldiers to 490,000 by October 2015, and 450,000 by 2019. Automatic budget cuts currently in place could ultimately reduce the number of soldiers to 420,000— a number leaders contend would leave the nation incapable of fighting even one sustained military conflict.

None of this was lost on the panel. Writing for National Review, House and Senate Armed Services Committee member, Rep. Jim Talent (R-MO), who was part of the panel, explains that while there were the “usual arguments over specific wording and programmatic recommendations…the broad conclusions were easy to reach. In fact, they were obvious to anyone with eyes to see the rapid deterioration of our armed forces and the worsening global threats that became manifestly more dangerous even during the months the panel was deliberating.”

He then gets to the heart of the matter. Citing our “rudderless and sometimes unreal foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East,” he further explains that the problem “isn’t just an Administration that acts as if America is weak. The problem is also that America is weak, and becoming weaker, relative to the threats posed by its adversaries – which is the only measurement of military power that really matters.” This leads Talent to a stark conclusion. “The world will get a lot messier until that changes,” he warns. It is a warning the Obama administration ignores at its peril—and that of the entire nation.

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  • JJ

    China and Russia are increasing their military expenditures, yet we are reducing ours! Their leaders are committed to winning wars, but our leader is committed to politically correct social experimentation! God help us.

    • Pete

      Elect a D. Get War.

      RInse Repeat

      “Truman would begin by subtracting from total receipts the amount needed for domestic needs and recurrent operating costs, with any surplus going to the defense budget for that year. From the beginning, Johnson and Truman assumed that the United States’ monopoly on the atomic bomb was adequate protection against any and all external threats. Johnson’s unwillingness to budget conventional readiness needs for the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps soon caused fierce controversies within the upper ranks of the armed forces.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_A._Johnson#Defense_budget_reductions

  • Pete

    Truman downsized the military.

    His method of budgeting for the military was to take take taxes subtract for social spending. The leftover tax receipts was the military budget.

    The Korean War broke out and the U.S. was using WW2 carriers , which Truman wanted to scrap. not the strategic bomber that the Air Force promised.

    Task Force Smith used condemned howitzers and obsolete bazookas. Something like 25% of the Task force died because of this.

    “The Truman administration wanted to forgo using nuclear weapons, and check North Korean aggression with conventional forces. As an initial response, Truman called for a naval blockade of North Korea, and was shocked to learn that such a blockade could only be imposed “on paper”, since the U.S. Navy no longer had the warships with which to carry out his request.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt_of_the_Admirals

    Give me a D. D! Give me a War. War! Give me Misery. MISERY!

    • Kruton

      Truman was a military incompetant .

    • Kruton

      Mao beat Harry,sorry dems.

  • CallMeIshmael’ssis

    The President isn’t ignoring the peril. He is fomenting it.

  • The March Hare

    “What the president fails to understand — which the report points out — is that a strong military underwrites all other tools our nation has for global influence.”

    The president’s goal is to reduce our global influence.

  • james connolly

    The world is getting more dangerous with every day Obama is in office. The author needs to conclude the obvious: Obama wants a messier, weaker and more dangerous US and world. NONE of this has happened by chance. He does not want the US in a position of power, but of weakness. Wake up! This has been his plan for HOPE & CHANGE since Jan.20, 2009. Obama ignores a article like this because his mind was made up since before he was elected president: to bring down American to just one of hundreds of countries in the world. Nothing special or admirable about it. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT OBAMA WANTS! HE CANNOT BE DISSUADED FROM HIS EVIL ACTIONS.

  • victoryman

    ……all part of the plan. Time for all to wake up and smell the coffee…………the Sheeple and Lowinfomofos will continue their welfare/food stamp/obamaphone/rental assistance induced catatonic state.

  • Evermyrtle

    A deliberate act against the USA, Obama is destroying our military, our protection from one or more foreign military forces coming and us taking over. Of course it is understood that Obama will remain “Master!!” There is only one thing that can give hope to the USA Christians, GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL AND WHEN WE GO OUT, IT WILL BE BY HIS HAND, not Obama’s. We can rest assured that GOD is willing and able to do that, HE has HIS plans made. We know by great studies of HIS WORD that it is nearly time for HIM to send HIS SON for us. Sometimes, we may loose our courage, but don’t worry GOD is able and is with us every minute of every day. With HIM we are save.

  • Americana

    We can always ramp up our military should the enemy bring war to the U.S. or brings war to U.S. interests. Given our current economic situation, the U.S. cannot maintain its WW II standard of vast dispersed military resources since we’ve squandered much of our money on maintaining standing armies in every possible theater for the past 7o+ years as well as having fought the Iraq War to the tune of almost a trillion dollars. The wisdom of reducing our army has been seen by the last several administrations and the specifics of our defense posture now reflect that reduction in force. We can always reframe our defense posture if the situation arises.

    • trapper

      No we can’t. In this age wars are decided in the first few days of conflict: The side with the most capable technology and most efficient military wins. The only way we can survive if this happens is with the use of nuclear weapons. So, you do realize that a weak conventional military means an increased likelihood of deploying nuclear weapons?

      • Americana

        We are not the only nation that will be deploying to head off the ISIS threat. Since ISIS is far from being able to get sufficient forces to our shores, it’s rather silly to believe at the moment that’s what ISIS will strategically be capable of doing.

        As for whether we choose conventional weapons over nuclear weapons, that’s what our treaties obligate us to do. Since we’ve got the edge all over ISIS every which way, I think we’ll be fine w/our conventional weapons. Those armies who might not be fine facing ISIS w/conventional weapons are their fellow Arabs, etc., who may fear the treatment at the hands of ISIS. We’ve got a lot of tactics yet before we commit any ground troops.

        • Drakken

          You again you show your complete ignorance of the threat that ISIS posses to us here in the west, as a conventional force they are still a threat and when they are through infiltrating Lebanon, Jordan and the Sinai, they will be a very huge threat. Let us not forget that within their ranks there are thousands of passport holders from the west that when they come back are going to raise all sorts of chaos. So honey, your understanding of the threat ISIS is, is next to nothing. We cannot just sit behind our borders thinking that everything will be fine, it never it and history has show this time and time again, and here you ignore it in the face of the evidence.

          • Americana

            Those passport holders will have large time gaps in their passport stamps if they’re participating in ISIS’ takeover of Iraq and adjacent nations. Sure, they’ll be a threat if they make it through passport control. Somehow, I think there will be a lot of wary eyes looking over the passports of young Muslim men who’ve been absent from the West for several months to a few years.

            As for what ISIS will become and what the Arab world is going to do about it, we’ll soon know if the remaining Arab nations’ populations happen to believe al-Baghdadi is the second coming or not if they experience any defections of men wishing to become jihadis. As a conventional force, ISIS has just recently become a real threat because they’ve taken possession of so much military equipment. This may be the first time we begin to see the willingness to participate in an offensive against ISIS. For a long time, the other Arab nations could pretend they’d never have to face the fact that ISIS was looming.

          • Johnnie the Jew

            Sorry, they won’t even be considering coming through passport control. They’ll be hanging off the underside of an Albanian lorry or skipping across the English channel under the cloak of darkness, as is the case across the pond. You’re not considering cunning at play here. You better brush up on the ‘Art of War’ as you conveniently either forget or are unaware how guerilla war strategy prevails. And we all know the consequences of what a few can do -100s killed and injured in a public space. As for ISIS, just get enough of them in the right place at the right time and unload then give the Kurds their own state and tool their army up.

    • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

      The allies almost lost World War II because we were so unprepared for war – do you want to risk that again? I understand the danger of large standing armies – the people must always have sufficient force available to overthrow the government if necessary – but the idea that we can wait to “ramp up” the military until someone lands 100,000 troops on one of our coasts, or until China starts a major war, is ludicrous.

      • Americana

        There’s a financial balance an advanced society must strike between reasonable military preparedness and overkill. Because we paid for DECADES of useless strategic positioning of American troops in Europe and the Far East and then prosecuted an extremely expensive high-tech war (Iraq), we’re less financially capable of pursuing that sort of intense military build up unless we’re willing to go further into debt. We are plenty prepared to handle any direct threat to the U.S. What we are less capable of handling is delivering LARGE numbers of U.S. troops to such efforts as tackling the next Iraq War against ISIS (or a war throughout the Middle East) all over again. **As for throwing over our government, that’s such a remote possibility, you’re silly to spend much time pondering the possibility.**

        • Drakken

          But your good buddy Obummer is ramping up social spending like it is going out of style. I’ll let you in on a little secret, overkill is highly underrated. Our military is being cut to the bone there sunshine and at this point cannot fight a prolonged engagement.

    • Drakken

      Leftist cool aid drinking thought process on full display. People like you make war always inevitable because you completely ignore it until it is a bloody mess and think that by more social spending, everybody will be happy. Just wait until you effing hero Obummer crashes the economy completely, then the fun will really begin. Let it rain for people like you deserve it.

  • antisharia

    The military is the one thing that a leftist is willing to cut from the budget. FDR, Carter, Clinton, now Obama. We’re sitting ducks. And if by some miracle we’re not attacked it will take us a decade(at least) to rebuild our military.

    • Americana

      The U.S. military has had a long-range plan through several administrations to reduce its standing armies and its footprint around the world. Why should the U.S. pay for the privilege of protecting nations that can afford to protect themselves? We may reconsider our role once the other nations of the world STEP UP and DEFEND THEMSELVES. Until then, we should hold onto our moolah until we know what we’ll be required to do in our own defense.

      • Drakken

        Because shortbus, every bloody time we have pulled back to our shores in the vain hope that war won’t come to our shores, these idiots in charge just make war that much more inevitable and much more bloodier.

        • Americana

          Well, Drakken, considering the two really bloody wars the U.S. has participated in — WW I and WW II — didn’t have anything to do w/an overseas U.S. military presence serving as a guardian deterrent around the world AT THE TIME of either world war, your whole concept about the U.S. “pulling back to our shores in the vain hope that war won’t come to our shores,” is sort of not even relevant. Each of those world wars were unique in their geographic aims and would have required different measures to head them off. As it was, the U.S. grew into the military giant she needed to become each time she was required to do so.

          Trying to maintain U.S. forces at maximal level on the off-chance we’ll need to use them is not cost-effective. This is especially true if we’re allowing other nations to slack of on their own defensive postures while we shoulder all the expense of their defense. Far more cost-effective would be insisting that all Americans serve in the U.S. armed forces and retaining all couch potato Americans as reservist members of the U.S. armed forces till age 55 like the Israelis do and some other countries. But the current arrangement of an all-volunteer force is a fallacy, because the U.S. began to call up its reservists immediately when it first decided to invade Iraq.

  • RMThoughts

    It is ironic that President Obama in his West Point speech posited that the US
    couldn`t be the world`s police, and intervene in every single dispute all over
    the globe; and yet his foreign policy approach has ended up getting involved in
    every single dispute all over the world

    • meanpeoplesuck

      Really? Do we have troops in the Ukraine, Libya and Syria? Who is ending the needless wars in Iraq and Afghanstan? Do you watch anything besides Faux News? You should, you might learn what is going on in the world.

      • UCSPanther

        You are such a LOLcow…

      • RMThoughts

        Yes we do…we have advisors and trainers headed to Ukraine as we speak to supplement the CIA on the ground.
        Has the war in Iraq and Afghanistan ended? If you read the MSM I’m sure you will note that it is more violent, more war than ever. Obama really did a great job ending those wars.

      • Kruton

        Really,cool!

      • KathyS

        you have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe you should do some research before you spout the democratic party line.

  • Lanna

    The Perfect Storm is here….Obama has seen to that!

  • USARetired

    My personal observations as a retiree; Our Military today lacks discipline, Moral is in the Toilet, Comradely and pride are absent, leadership benin, no mission readiness, incorrect mission objectives and a Muslim Commander In Chief with no experience or qualifications!
    In summation this administration has rendered our Military the most ineffective fighting machine this Nation has ever seen, and this opinion is based on 34 years experience !

  • thomaswells

    Defining the military as a fighting force instead of a laboratory for the production and promotion of politically correct bureaucrats in uniform would be a good start.

    • FedUpWithWelfareStates

      “It further noted that the shrinkage of U.S. forces, resulting from the severe budget cuts imposed on our fighting forces constitutes a “serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States,”…herein lays the problem…the military actually thinks they have some God-given right to spend American tax payers hard earn money at will, creating their own empires, playing their own caste system games, etc. They have seriously forgotten their place & that they serve the American people. All branches of the service fall under DOD, so why isn’t the SECDEF making the hard calls to re-consolidate the military into a streamlined, well oiled fighting machine? There are 5-Air forces (Fixed wing) when we could get by with one, designating certain squadrons to train in certain missions (CAS, Carriers, etc.) There are 2-Ground Forces, when we need only one (transfer the USMC to SOCOM & deploy them as MEUs only). There are 3-Navies, when we need only one (consolidate all ‘boats’ in the U.S. Navy & have designated units train for specific missions, such as Coast Guard, bridge building, amphibious landings, etc.). There are at least 7-Special Operation Forces coming from all branches of the service (designate SOCOM as the 4th branch of service, replacing the USMC, & consolidate SOF missions by tasks, but still able to draw personnel from the other branches of service).

  • UCSPanther

    Any nation that gets rid of its military may as well sign itself over to its enemies and kneel before their leaders…

  • USARetired

    All part of Obozo’s master plan, to ‘Dumb’ down America’, and turn us into a third World Country!

  • PAthena

    President Barack Hussein Obama makes Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who made the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler, “peace in our time,” seem firm. One of the first things that Obama did when he became president was to return the bust of Winston Churchill which the British Embassy had given to President George Bush after 9/11. (Then he bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia.)

  • WhiteHunter

    This is exactly the outcome Obama and the G’damnocrats have always wanted. They DON’T want us prosperous, strong, proud, united, safe, and free. They want us impoverished, dependent, weak, ashamed and timid, vulnerable, and enslaved.

    They hate America, and they hate our military even more. Our troops are handcuffed by Rules of Engagement that amount to a suicide pact: If you shoot a terrorist before he actually pulls the trigger and shoots you, you’ll face a JAG for “war crimes” and a sentence in Leavenworth.

    Exhausted soldiers are sent on back-to-back year-long deployments to the cesspools of the world where they’re as likely to be shot in the back by a “friendly” as to be blown to bits by an I.E.D. planted by the “friendly’s” cousin on the orders of his local ayatollah. If they come back with no legs, they’re sent into a corrupt V.A. system that gives millions in bonuses to $170,000 “administrators” for shredding the evidence of their own and their subordinates’ homicidal crimes.

    Most of the straight-talking fighting generals have been cashiered, their places taken by compliant, politically correct parrots like Martin Dempsey. Infantry captains and majors who’d planned to make a career of the professional military and have already devoted the best years of their lives to the army–and are the farm team for the next generation of generals–are fired and sent into hardscrabble unemployment in the economy that Obama strangled and still keeps his foot on the neck of. What a great way to say: “Thank you for your service!”

    Ronald Reagan wisely observed, “No country was ever attacked because it was too STRONG.” And the Romans used to put it similarly: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

    While Obama and his accomplices idiotically warn that “the greatest danger we face is Climate Change!” and weakens our military to the point where victory in any fight is in no way a given any more, they guarantee our defeat by slashing our defense spending while squandering billions on “green energy” boondoggles concocted by their friends and compaign donors, and on welcoming millions of diseased illegals here.

    Get a good look at Obama’s America while we still have an America to look at at all. In just a few more years, she won’t be recognizable. And that is exactly what Obama meant with his “radical transformation.” He wants the country he was raised from earliest childhood to hate to be destroyed, and he has already nearly completed that “mission.”