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Letters to the Editor

Military cuts

November 17, 2011

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To the editor:

My son is a lieutenant in the Army. He loves the United States and plans to continue fighting for our country.

I am concerned about the $350 billion being cut from military spending. Maybe the Joint Chiefs of Staff can manage that amount. However, if $500 billion more in cuts are made, it will put our country, troops and their families at risk. Things that could be on the block include plans to modernize the nation’s arsenal as well as the benefits now guaranteed to retired military personnel.

Many of the people stay in our military because of those benefits and love for their country. We get the military leaders from people who stay in and plan to retire from the armed forces. We need all the leaders who are in command to stay. Lack of good benefits could reduce the number of career service members. It would concern members whether their families would continue to get the support they need, especially when they are away from home.

Our troops should not have to worry while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere but concentrate on getting the job done.

There are other ways to cut the federal budget, and our Congress members should choose to protect our status as a super power that provides protection around the world.

Comments

Abdu Omar 3 years, 1 month ago

Everyone will beg on their knees to ensure their pet department or government service will continue. But the facts are there in front of us. We are overspent especially in our zeal to attack the Middle East for no reason. Iraq was a hoax. Our great military was up to the task, but now they are coming home and out of harms way. Afghanistan was full of terrorists and we have chased them to the ends of the earth. We have hurt them badly and are soon to have them dispersed further. We have greatly reduced their ability to harm us.

But we must reduce the spending on arms and munitions and give up the notion that we can police the world. Our servicemen and women did a fine job and they deserve the best in post military services, but we cannot afford to have a huge amount of ships, airplanes and ground assets sitting around. Our golden parachute is closing.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 1 month ago

Unsurprisingly, the folks doing the most lobbying against defense spending cuts are defense contractors. Does Ms. Hayes not understand this??? Apparently not, as she spends practically her entire letter worrying about cuts in retirement benefits. Too bad she doesn't worry about anyone else's retirement. Or anyone else's families.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Our troops should not have to worry while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere"

Correction-- our troops should not be serving at all in Iraq, Afghanistan, or almost anywhere else outside the US. This would allow us to cut the defense budget by 80%, while better meeting the needs of those who are in the military, and more importantly, allow us to better meet the needs of everyone not in the military.

DrQuack 3 years, 1 month ago

It's time to stop extravagant spending, whether on the military or on other things. This country is deep in debt and the middle class is stuck (again) with the bill. Far too much of our budget is allocated to the military. Bring the troops home!

ophiolite 3 years, 1 month ago

Having protested the Iraq War before it began, I remember being threatened by my fellow citizens because I was being "unpatriotic". I find it funny that now everyone is against the wars and feels they got "stuck (again) with the bill". If only we had seen the same level of concern about the defense budget before the wars. I agree that we should bring the troops home in a responsible way. As an active duty military spouse there is nothing I want more. I am deeply concerned about cuts in the defense budget that would affect those who have sacrificed so much for their country, like my friend who lost his legs in Afghanistan 2 months ago. Cutting VA benefits that provide for the long-term recovery of our wounded warriors is absolutely unacceptable. Moreover, the American people promised the 1% of Americans who exercised their fellow Americans foreign policy decisions by going to war that they would provided these benefits. To welch on those promises now will likely lead to failure of the "all-volunteer force" concept. I wonder how we will raise an Army, if god-forbid we need to, if we continue to have a track record of throwing away the people who answer the call of duty. Will the American people be more protective of VA benefits if they have to have skin in the game?

tomatogrower 3 years, 1 month ago

We can have a strong well cared for military, and care for our poor, and have well maintained roads, but they cost money. And there are a whole lot of people in our country who want these things, but don't want to pay for them. Wait for more cuts, and the reinstatement of the draft, because there is no incentive to join the military, except of course, the fact that companies will keep unemployment high, so they can pay minimum wage to workers desperate for any job.

Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

"I am concerned about the $350 billion being cut from military spending."

This is $350B over 10 years, or $35B per year. By comparison, total military spending--depending on how you count it--is $7,000B to $10,000B (yes, thousands of billions, or trillions) over 10 years. The upper figures include things like VA benefits and interest on the hundreds of billions borrowed for past spending.

What's more, spending at the Porkagon has doubled in a decade. Doubled from what was already the largest single slice of the budget pie. Doubled since the demise of the Soviet Union and its global revolutionary agitation. Doubled.

I salute this letter writer's son and his service to America. Let's hope that he'll be able to continue this in a scaled-down military. Or -- dare we hope?!? -- a scaled-up diplomatic corp.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Of course.

What we want in our diplomats is hard core Marine training.

Sarcasm intended.

Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes because the most effective diplomatic speech when dealing with the Ruskies is the Big Red One. LOL I remember your type from my service days. There wasn't a day I didn't wish that the diplomats were better at their jobs so I didn't have to be so good at mine. But the take home from that is the importance, not the impotence, of diplomacy.

The most subversive thing our embassy in Beijing does every day isn't running spies or threatening the PLA -- it is publishing on the internet accurate air quality reports from the embassy rooftop. Those reports put the lie to the corrupt official reports and remind Chinese citizens that whatever American shortcomings are, we are a nation that is strong enough to not fear the truth and value open and candid discussions of our problems.

(Well, except for a small faction of delusional crazies in the GOP who live in a bubble world of propaganda, disdain for knowledge, and fact denial. Yes, I'm looking at you Marcus Bachmann.)

Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

But .... military spending as a public jobs program is perhaps the most wasteful way to do. Why can't your son build schools, roads, and villages in the U.S.?

How is it that when the U.S. wasted vast sums in its elective war against Saddam that none of the money had to be "paid for" but rather was borrowed --- 100% --- from lenders, but today any proposal to invest in America's future and grow our own economy has to be "paid for" by .....no, not taxing the wealthy ... no, not by borrowing at today's negative real interest rates .... but by cutting the insurance programs for retirement and health care already bought by retirees.

Even then the investment is merely postponed (and costs increased) rather than avoided. Failing bridges can be repaired now at 0% interest, 5 yrs from now at 5x the cost and 7% interest, or 10 yrs from now when the bridge collapses at 20x the cost and God only knows how much interest.

Clueless people often say stupid things like: 'we should run the gov't like a business.' Well, what sort of business would refuse to make critical investments when it can borrow the money at a net negative real interest rate (a/k/a, lenders pay you for the privilege of lending you the money)??

Jimo 3 years, 1 month ago

"Our troops should not have to worry while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere but concentrate on getting the job done."

Job is done.

Iraq has no WMDs and isn't a threat to any of its neighbors.

Afghanistan no longer hosts al Qaeda. Bin Laden and virtually every important al Qaeda leader is dead.

The US installed Iraqi gov't wishes us to leave.

The US installed Afghan gov't wishes us to leave.

Everyone home by Christmas.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Interesting take on here!

First, exactly what do you want the military to do for you? That is what sets the requirements for people, weapons and infrastructure. I believe what the author is suggesting is that you not demand that her son defend you in some manner while you withhold the resources necessary to do that placing him in much greater jeopardy. Second, as JIMO points out there is a lot of legacy costs in the Defense Budget for things like the VA, retirements, health care and the like. Is it the position on here that we should renege on all such commitments?? I remind you that the military are employees of the state like any other such employee. As such their benefits are part of their employee contract and not something we as citizens provide to ease the edges on our economic system. Comparing them to “the poor” is just not rational

ljwhirled 3 years, 1 month ago

The US spends more on defense than every other country on earth......combined.

We can protect our interests with 1/2 the budget, but things are going to have to change at the DoD.

I am confident that our servicemen can work out efficient ways to defend america by spending only 1/2 as much as the rest of earth.

If we put 1/2 the DoD budget into foreign and domestic construction projects, we could earn the good will of many, many countries and avoid the necessity to go to war in the first place.

National defense needs to change. The cold war is over. The War on Terror is an Intelligence operation (as it always should have been). It is time to bring our troops home and use the money to give them opportunities in the private sector or doing national service here at home.

George Lippencott 3 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like a cop out to me. " I am confident that our servicemen can work out efficient ways to defend america by spending only 1/2 as much as the rest of earth."

It is our job as citizens to define what we want done. It is an avoidance of that responsibility when we demand the military spend less but don't tell them what we don't wan t done?

The entire process of defense planning relies on a dialogue between goals and risk. You basically demand full protection without any discussion of what the risk is in doing that at 50% of the curtrent budget.

Your also ducked as many on here do the implications to those who have served and whose earned benefits are paid through the defense budget.

ljwhirled 3 years, 1 month ago

The goal is to make America safe.

How was that goal being accomplished on Sept 10, 2001? We were spending an awful lot of money on that day.

My point is that the military can keep us safe for 1/2 the budget. That means 1/2 the planes, 1/2 the tanks and 1/2 the troops.

If our goal is to project power and conquer other nations, then we need to up spending, but keeping us safe here at home can be done for much, much less.

If we spend only 1/2 the money as all of earth combined, we can still stay safe. It is about re-focusing the military on relevant threats.

We are in 4 conflicts right now (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya & Central Africa). The F-22 Raptor has not been used in any of them. Why keep it in service? Why buy more? As a jobs program for Aerospace Engineers?

Heck, the Raptor was offline for several months this year, with no significant consequences.

Same can be said of some nuclear subs, some nuclear missiles and a host of other expensive technologies. They are irrelevant to modern threats.

By cutting the defense budget we can force the military to re-focus on the relevant.

If we keep shoveling money to the military saying "as much as you need...." they will keep spending it. They will never say, "that is enough".

George Lippencott 3 years ago

And what is safe to you?

Is it that China does not achieve hegemony over all the Southeast Asian countries? Iran does not assume control over all of the mid-east oil before we find a viable way to become energy independent? How about our friends the terrorists getting a “dirty bomb”? By your concept we will know it is coming but have no resources to stop it. Stupid!

Your concept is way simplistic and you have continued to avoid legacy costs. Just maybe you do not know what you are talking about??

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

You know, if your posts were even remotely funny, you could write for the Onion.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

Unfortunjately he/she has a point. Should we go back to that old Goldwater quote about "liberty"

jafs 3 years ago

There is a clear distinction between protecting our country, protecting "American interests" around the world, and projecting our influence forcefully in the world.

It is perfectly possible to do the first without necessarily doing the other two, and we should be discussing those distinctions, and what's really in our best interests.

To me, it's obvious that the first is a good idea, and most everybody agrees with that, I'm sure.

I'm less comfortable with the second - it seems to get us involved in a variety of bad situations, strange alliances, etc.

And, I'm very uncomfortable with the last one - except for a very few clear cases, I don't think we should be doing it at all.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

And where is the line on protecting our country??

Is it that China does not achieve hegemony over all the Southeast Asian countries? Iran does not assume control over all of the mid-east oil before we find a viable way to become energy independent? How about our friends the terrorists getting a “dirty bomb”?

bszemere 3 years ago

Folks, don't fool yourselves. Any significant cuts will cut into our defense will show weakness and to countries like China and Russia, that's all they need to play games. We have more people today that 5 years ago with ICBMs aimed at us. Russia and China build their systems up while to draw down.

The defense of the nation is one of the few clear cut directives that is written into the Constitution. That has to be be done. There is a clear tie between good defense spending and national security. We get into wars because we are not ready to fight them. That's when our enemies act up.

We spent billions and won the Cold War. We are strong in technology. It makes jobs. And the money, for the most part, is well spent. It's not being defense that make it poorly spent at times, its the fact that the US government is doing the spending that's the problem.

Look at our social programs. Please tell me in the Constitution where there is welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, job training. 'Insure for the common welfare" doesn't cover this. We "wage war" on poverty and we never talk about all those failed programs. They are wasted. We are not even allowed to require public housing receipiants to stay drug free. No limits on welfare. We start with 3 months of unemployment and we are now up to 99 weeks. Does it help? Is their less unemployment?

Check on the default rate for school loans. Its shocking, maybe a much as 10 to 15%.They complain about not being able to pay off the loans and they pick majors with poor job opportunities. And we can say nothing about what major they chose.

Half the people don't pay federal income taxes and want more. 15 to 20% pay no taxes at all and they still want more.

By the way, we spend 6 years removing enriched uranium from Iraq since going in there. Its what they don't tell you in that regard to things like that is the real story. Iraq was no fake.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

Why do you ask that question. The writer has an opinion that differs from yours. That is his right and to infer he is ignorant is not constructive. What makes you so sure that you and MSNBC are right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

I'm not inferring that s/he is ignorant. I'm stating quite blatantly that s/he is utterly misinformed.

George Lippencott 3 years ago

Because you believe they are reflecting FOX? Maybe they believe what they wrote and just maybe they know something about the topic.

I do note that the group demanding big cuts in Defense Spending never responds to

  1. What they want from Defense (in any specificty) 2 How to handle legacy costs

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