America's military power in a steep decline
By Alan Caruba
"Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow. We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements…It may be training young people so they can get jobs…it may be working to eliminate corruption and promote the rule of law…"
The Obama administration proposal that a jobs program be created for the militants in the Middle East was met with appropriate derision because what the jihadists need is killing. That's what they are doing to Christians, Jews and others in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The quote above is by John Kerry, the Secretary of State, and to be fair, his February 18 Wall Street Journal commentary began by saying "The rise of violent extremism represents the pre-eminent challenge of the young 21st Century. Military force is a rational and often necessary response to the wanton slaughters of children, mass kidnappings of schoolgirls, and beheading of innocents. But military force along won't achieve victory."
Kerry is wrong. History as recent as the mid-20th century is proof enough that the military defeat of Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan was the only thing that ended the threat they represented. He was also wrong when he told a congressional committee that the world is a safer place these days when it is clear to anyone it is not.
We are being led by people who live in some alternative universe where pixie dust and unicorns exist.
The real question the Obama administration has to answer is why, since he took office in 2009, has he been systematically reducing the military power of the United States? By pulling our troops out of Iraq he created a vacuum filled by the Islamic State (ISIS) that now threatens the entire Middle East and parts of North Africa. He has since curtailed plans to pull most of our troops out of Afghanistan.
Out of sight of Americans, however, the key personnel, the leaders on which our military depends, have been subject to a purge. General Paul Vallely (Ret) has warned that "Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented," adding that "He's intentionally weakening and gutting our military and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged."
In late February, 84 former U.S. government officials, retired U.S. military leaders, and national security experts sent an open letter to the House and Senate leadership asking them to work together to end the harm that the Budget Control Act and sequestration is inflicting on our Armed Forces.
They deemed the trillion dollars of required defense spending cuts "a grave and growing danger to our national security…as threats intensify across the globe." The cuts "are undermining the readiness of our forces today and investment in the critical capabilities they will need tomorrow."
"In the last three years, the Army's strength has been cut by nearly 100,000 soldiers. The Navy's contingency response force is at one-third the level of what it should be. Less than half of the Air Force's combat squadrons are fully ready. Approximately half of the Marine Corps non-deployed units lack sufficient personnel, equipment, and training."
These were facts set forth in the National Defense Panel's July 2014 report. It warned that if sequestration takes effect in fiscal year 2016, the U.S. would be facing an "immediate readiness crisis."
This lack of readiness was the subject of a Wall Street Journal commentary, "Europe's Defense Wanes as the Putin Threat Grows" by Ian Birrell, so it is not just the United States that lacks sufficient troops and weapons in the event of a war. Birrell noted that "With fewer than 100,000 full-time troops, Great Britain now has a smaller army than during the mid-19th-century Crimean War." Other members of NATO have cut their defense budgets in recent years. He warned that "As we fight this new Cold War, Western leaders need to relearn the old lessons of crisis management and deterrence that defeated Mr. Putin's Soviet predecessors—and relearn them quickly."
Recall that Secretary Kerry has gone on record saying that "climate change" is the greatest threat the U.S. and the world faces. Little wonder that Chuck Hegel resigned as the former Secretary of Defense given the pressure he was under from a White House indifferent to the real problems and threats the U.S. faces.
In 2014 the Pentagon released a "Climate Change Adaptation Forecast" and any defense funds diverted to this plan were just that much less than needed for our troops in the field and the real needs of the U.S. military. Are they supposed to be fighting melting ice bergs or staying ready for potential military threats from China or Russia?
An example of the idiotic political correctness, scarce Pentagon resources are being diverted to a plan to generate 50% of the Navy's energy needs from "alternative sources" by 2020, including $3.5 billion for biofuels. You cannot fight a global war if the Navy cannot swiftly and easily acquire oil to run its ships that are not nuclear-powered and fly its aircraft.
At the same time, the U.S. has been reducing its stockpile of nuclear arms. The State Department's Rose Gottemoeller, under-secretary for arms control and international security, recently told a group "The U.S. commitment to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons is unassailable." She noted that the nation's stockpile of active weapons is down 85% from maximum cold war levels, falling to 4,804 in 2013 from a high of 31,255, adding that "We still have more work to do."
This completely ignores nuclear nations like North Korea who have bad intentions toward the U.S. and their neighbors and it runs completely contrary to the U.S. negotiations with Iran that would permit it to become a nuclear armed nation.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently told Congress that Russia and China have placed their highest priority on building up and maintaining strategic nuclear forces.
If you want to know what is wrong about the entire approach to our nation's military needs, consider that since 2009 when Obama took office, the Pentagon's civilian workforce has grown about 7% to almost 750,000, while active-duty military personnel have been cut by approximately 8%.
At the same time, dozens of military-equipment and weapons programs have been canceled, including a new Navy cruiser, a new search-and-rescue helicopter, the F-22 first-generation fighter, the C-17 transport aircraft, missile defense and the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
We are not prepared to fight a war and now you know why.
Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2015