Is Downsizing the Military Good for the Country

There has been a lot of buzz in the news lately about the Department of Defense budget and downsizing the military to curb the overall debt of the Federal Government.  Secretary of Defense Hagel outlined the restructuring of the military and what affect it would have on the DoD budget (Simeone, 2014).  There are many sides to this issue, but there is a position that isn’t talked about as much.  How do Americans feel about having a smaller military?  Have we gone through this before, then determined there was a need to build it back up?  How is this restructuring pitched to the citizens of the United States, so that we believe having a smaller military will still provide the security needed for homeland defense and to wage campaigns that our senior leaders believe is necessary aboard to thwart any attempts to threaten the United States.

One school of thought is that the Service components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are not jointly operating at peak efficiency and that restructuring with a smaller force will motivate the Services to work better together (Pincus, 2014).  This is especially highlighted in the way the Military Health System (MHS) operates.  In an effort to work in a more joint environment, the MHS stood up the Defense Health Agency, which required that the Services share 10 like services during the implementation stages of the Agency known as initial operating capacity (IOC) (Kime, 2014).  By 2015, the goal is to be at full operating capacity (FOC).

There have been great strides in the Service components working jointly.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples of that.  There were Navy units assigned under Army commands and Air Force units assigned under Navy commands.  Certainly, this is an environment where there was a common purpose, but the health care community, with all Service health care components, sacrificed any Service agendas to operate in the best interest of our wounded warriors.  Are there efficiencies that can be made back here in the United States?  Yes.  The government needs to make logical decisions in order to make that happen.  The senior leaders need to stop looking at spreadsheets and look at our Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines, and Coast-guardsman, and do what is right to ensure the citizens of this great country are safe, to the best of their ability.

Whatever the results of the restructuring, after reviewing all of the relevant data, the elected officials need to communicate the way ahead with their constituents and the men and women who service our nation.  The plan needs to be an understandable message that the restructuring of the military is in their best interest.  That the way ahead is good for the country and good for the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation.

Kime, P. (2014). New defense health agency takes on support functions formerly run by services. Army Times: A Gannet Company, Retrieved from http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140120/BENEFITS06/301200027/New-Defense-Health-Agency-takes-support-functions-formerly-run-by-services

Pincus, W. (2014, February 24). Little uniformity in military health care. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/little-uniformity-in-military-health-care/2014/02/24/27cb9a52-9b18-11e3-975d-107dfef7b668_story.html

Simeone, N. (2014). Hagel outlines budget reducing troop strength, force structure. American Forces Press Service, Retrieved from http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121703

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3 Responses to Is Downsizing the Military Good for the Country

  1. courtnem says:

    Test post from Courtney.

  2. Pete says:

    Robert:
    Quite a timely topic this Spring. Top flight choice of a discussion piece. I view all of this on the level of foreign aid (Federal Government funded) and Embassies/Missions, in addition to armed forces, which in most minds includes intelligence operations. How does this serve our nation? I am no “isolationist” but what is the purpose of giving hard dollars to the outside of a nation? Even to friends and neighbors? I have no problem doing all of this at current levels or even a little more restrained in numbers, supports. But what becomes of mission creep and where do the long-term benefits lay in store for future generations? Is this economic, geo-political, etc? And where does China and chief U.S. supporters like the U.K. and Australia agree or disagree with these notions, policies. I have no problem paying forward, paying dollar-for-dollar switching of budget priorities. Wars are ‘wrapped’ up and economy in stagnation. My worry – with now two little girls under the ages of three years – where may be the unintended consequences or true lack of foresight on coming challenges.
    Tough and thorough subject, Fight On!
    -pete

  3. Nick Dempsey says:

    Rob, great post. I think it is safe to say that a military that large and expensive that things can certainly get complicated very quickly. What concerns me the most is not the data or whether or not we can figure out the optimal size of the military. No, what concerns me most is just how politicized these decisions get. When I think of just how messy the BRAC commissions get, I cannot even image how bad downsizing the entire military will be. The whole thing seems like a political minefield. One thing is for sure though, the lobbyists will probably come out on top.