I wrote not too long ago about how ridiculous it is Obama has essentially quadrupled deficit spending, and created an astronomically expensive new entitlement, while demanding deep cuts from the military. This is undobutedly the fruit of his early 1980s, Nuclear Freeze, anti-military worldview.
I personally think the Pentagon could save a lot of money by scaling back America’s commitments around the globe quite radically, adjusting its retirement system, and changing its procurement process. But the bigger solution must come from narrowing the mission: we should retain power projection ability, but one focused on territorial defense, as opposed to defending amorphous “interests.” With a few exceptions–sea lanes, nuclear proliferation, terrorist training camps–we can mostly ignore the globe’s parochial hotspots, which have little to do with us and the outcome of which will barely affect us. It seems to me the US gets relatively little in the way of return from having forces in places like Germany, Guam or South Korea. Let’s keep a few logistics bases, a decent number of carriers and prepositioned gear, and mostly let the world go to hell.
That said, we still need functional aircraft, tanks, or our great wealth will make us the subject to bullying and shakedowns by more militarily powerful countries. It turns out our planes are getting very old (see below)
And yet we’ve largely scuttled the F-22, the F-35 strike fighter is on the chopping block, and the Marines this week lost their Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The latter is a particularly bad cut–unless some off-the-shelf choice is quickly chosen to replace it–as the current amphibious vehicle is super-old, slow, poorly armored, and cannot realistically last another 20 or 30 years. Of course, the EFV’s development was super-expensive, problem-plagued, and typical (I’m sad to say) of major USMC weapons-development programs, such as the costly Osprey.
You have to know a wee bit about military gear (and how old much of it is) to know what replacements are reasonable and what are not. You also have to have a strategic vision not to allow the Pentagon to metastasize into developing capability for fighting ten wars, simultaneously, all with gold-plated leadership, retirements, and contractors. Obama seems to have neither the necessary knowledge, nor vision, to intelligently tackle Pentagon reform, and Gates appears to be simply following the boss’s latest 90 degree turn. Both are seeking to cut crucial programs, while continuing the role of the US as global cop.