Battleland

A Trillion Here…

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Alex Wong / Getty Images

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, testifying Wednesday.

It was only two short years ago that Battleland published a major piece in the pages of Time detailing how the Pentagon could cut spending by about 15% over the coming decade.

How to Save a Trillion Dollars

…was the headline.

We recall when reporting that story that the idea of a trillion-dollar cut was a far out notion. Sure, some liberal think tanks had pushed for cuts that deep, but they certainly seemed, as pilots sometimes like to say, beyond visual range. It was not even on the horizon. Pentagon people insisted: No way.

Now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has declared it has happened.

Since that story appeared, the Defense Department’s political masters told it to tighten its belt, followed by the whammy – also imposed by its political masters, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — of sequestration. The resulting total projected cut: $1.2 trillion over a decade.

What appeared highly unlikely two years ago is now the law of the land. It isn’t looking like it is going to change.

“A trillion-two [dollars] leaves a mark on the United States armed forces that will — would make it — we haven’t made this actual — we haven’t decided that it would make our current strategy infeasible, but it will put it at great risk and could make it infeasible,” Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday.

Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have spent the past two days testifying before Congress, where lawmakers with strong military interests are decrying what is happening. But the rest of Congress seems unmoved. There is no major push to desequester.

That fact – none dare call it inertia — speaks volumes about where the country is at, and where it’s headed.

We haven’t decided that it would make our current strategy infeasible, but it will put it at great risk and could make it infeasible.

If the Pentagon is smart, it will take a knee, acknowledge its markedly changed fiscal environment, and abandon its push for marginal changes in favor of some fundamental military retooling.

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