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I am active duty in the Air Force, and so obviously I’m being affected as much as anyone by the “sequestration shuffle.” I feel the pain and see the impact on our readiness, of reduced training, maintenance, travel and supply purchases. And of course it hurt to see our dedicated civilian brothers and sisters take a paycheck cut in the furlough.

But I take exception when people make this out to be the end of the U.S. military as we know it.

In the Nov. 12 article “Automatic budget cuts might hurt more in ’14,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “We might as well just shut down the Pentagon. You’d better hope we never have a war again.” That’s just ridiculous hyperbole.

The bottom line is, even with sequestration, the U.S. still spends half a trillion dollars more on defense than the next biggest spender in the world, China. Even if you add in Russia, our former competitor in the defense spending arena, we still outspend both countries combined by more than $400 billion a year. And if you add NATO members into the mix the difference becomes even more stark: The combined nations of NATO spend almost six times more than China does on their militaries, and more than 10 times more than Russia does.

So stop the hyperbole. We still have the biggest, baddest military the world has ever seen, backed by the biggest, baddest alliance. Of course I don’t want to see my own (or anyone else’s) paycheck cut. But in this day and age, we can take a few tens of billions in budget reductions and still be well able to defend the national interests of the United States — if we could just apply logic to the process, and not politics.

Maj. Matt Duston

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Big issues missing from paper

Regarding Stars and Stripes’ recent content changes: As an American local-hire, SOFA-status contractor in Japan, how about a lot less music-entertainer news, not so overheavy on things to do in Europe, and more editorial commentary — especially pro and con on issues?

You also need investigative coverage on why American civilian contractors hired abroad are paid equivalent to minimum wage because they are a captive workforce. I’m not talking about DOD here, but rather nonappropriated funds folks — who can’t afford any of the quite-impressive tour packages that are offered by all the base travel agencies.

People who want cartoons and crossword puzzles can subscribe to other publications that provide them or get them off the Internet.

Also, the recent article on a proposal to have the U.S. military fight pirates off Africa (“Marines to the rescue in pirate-infested waters of Africa?,” Foreign Policy, Nov. 6, stripes.com) had no mention of whether other nations, or the United Nations, have a responsibility to help with this. The U.S. can no longer be the world’s policeman. There seems to be a massive disconnect on how all these ideas are supposed to be paid for.

Brian H. Finley III

Iwakuni, Japan

Not sure what I came back to

I went on leave for a month and came back to an unrecognizable newspaper. I thought to myself: “This must be a mistake, the real paper will come tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came, but not my beloved Stars and Stripes — the one that I have been reading for some 39 years. Too bad I won’t make it to another decade.

You could have at least asked your readers what we wanted before you went and made changes that have affected my (and many others’) decision to just say no to our next subscription update.

So long, old friend — you will be missed.

Patricia Dunbar

Mihama, Okinawa

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