Republican staffers on the House Armed Services Committee are warning that the cuts are coming and the results will be dire:
— Resultant force structure is insufficient to decisively win an engagement in one theater while defending vital national interests in another.
— Jeopardizes ability to respond to potential contingencies in North Korea or Iran, and adequately defend allies (including Israel and Taiwan) and deployed US forces.
— Further degrades our ability to deter a rising China from challenging other allies.
Close to 200,000 troops would have to be cut from the Army and Marine Corps, from today’s 771,400 to as few as 571,000, the analysis says. Armed services committee chairman Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., is one of the GOP’s leading hawks, so it’s no surprise that the analysis reflects his aversion to cutting military spending. (“A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline,” he has famously said.)
But what’s missing from the study is any review of what the U.S. military’s current roles and missions are, and whether they should be modified to accommodate lower spending (which would take U.S. military spending all the way back to 2007’s level). As we first noted in April, cuts of this magnitude cannot be made without adjusting the U.S. military’s responsibilities. To talk only about the impact of the cuts — without tethering them to a retooled U.S. military mission — is an exercise in frustration and futility.