With military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan comming to an end, it is right and appropriate to re-size the Army and USMC back to their pre-surge levels. Under Bush and Rumsfield these levels were considered appropriate for the long-term US troop levels. It is right to reduce back down to these levels. There is no national security risk to doing so.
However, Obama's plans to provide lower military raises -- as low as 0.05%, are a problem. Just as with the pay freezes for civilian federal employees protecting our nation's security, freezes to the men and women in uniform is also a risk to security. As government downsizes, including the military, the number of promotions moves near 0; as cuts made to higher level possitions equal retierments and other seperations. As this happens for military and civlian workers, the pressures of inflation can become significant if they are denied regular inflationary adustments.
By not providing inflationary adjustments, the buying power of the men and women fighting to protect and defend our freedom gets reduced. As a result, people looking to support a family are detered from wanting to take these jobs in the future. Increasingly, the effect of this is to lower the quality of recruits we will have in the military of tommorrow and to weaken our national security.
I urge folks who care about national security to consider that the real threat to our security is not reducing the number of active duty soldiers and marines that we have; it is cutting their pay. Without the need to act as the police force for Afghanistan, we really do need about 25% fewer soldiers than we have today -- and even with those 25% fewer soldiers -- we could have a far stronger military. Those soldiers are not needed to fight a war; and that level of an Army is only needed for one thing: nation building. Without the need to nation build, the cuts are fine. What is not fine, however, is that risk turning folks off towards serving our country by this long-term virtual pay freeze being proposed by Obama for the military.
Our military of the future will be increasingly high-tech, but smaller. Special forces are becoming more importaint. Air power is replacing the navy, and has been since WWII. Cyber warfare, electronic warfare, and other high-tech warfare is the wave of the future. Boots on the ground are only usefull now for nation building.
It is time that we realize that we need a smaller, better military. We need to focus less on size, and more on quality.