Military review should focus on warfighter
It’s time for Washington to abandon its crusade against the military budget and focus on a more important goal: our troops.
With roughly $450 billion in cutbacks to defense spending already set to be implemented over the next 10 years, and half of the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts — triggered by the supercommittee failure — destined for the military budget, the U.S. military is as lean and nimble as it’s ever been. Politicians in Washington have scaled back the maintenance and development of defense systems in every branch of the military, but what they fail to realize is that defense systems aren’t the only investment military spending goes toward.
It is important to remember that high-speed, long-range defense systems can never be used as substitutes for soldiers (and Marines), but only as suitable combat support tools. Air power itself has never won a war; history has shown us that time and again. In Germany, the massive bombing of German open cities during World War II only increased the resolve of the German people to resist. Similarly, the bombing of North Vietnam in the Vietnam War, Bosnia in the Clinton era and, more recently, Iraq did little help for our efforts without ground support. Even bombing in Libya was futile until ground troops were able to win the day.
The U.S. infantry will forever be “the ultimate weapon” and investment in its maintenance and development should remain on the forefront. However, since maintaining soldiers in an all-volunteer force is extremely costly, ground forces are likely to be sacrificed so Congress can achieve its arbitrary budget targets.
In 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates closed headquarters, eliminated general officer slots and announced he would downsize the Army and Marines by 47,000 personnel in order to comply with Washington’s demands. Unless the American people object, Congress is paving the way for even more draconian budget cuts.
The U.S. needs a Congress that will rid the Pentagon of the unnecessary hordes of administrators and invest in the one element all presidents — except President Ronald Reagan — have neglected: the warfighter.
We need a stable, well-trained force (active-duty, Reserve and National Guard) that is proportional to our national base. We need leaders to put their money where their mouths are and invest in airpower, satellites, drones and other high-speed, long-reach capabilities that meet the needs of our warfighter, not just the needs of the industry.
Congress needs to think twice about the vital importance of infantry and ground troops before it hollows out our military.
Col. Eric Rojo (retired) is co-founder of the Washington-based Hispanic War Veterans of America, a 501 (c) 19 nonprofit national veterans organization. He serves as director of Homeland Security for Potomac Falls, Va.-based Integrated Infrastructure Analytics Inc.