That is the opening phrase of the Associated Press article announcing plans to further decimate our Armed Forces. And in the name of what? Frugality? It is the most irresponsible and dangerous act in recent history otherwise I might break into hysterical laughter.
Once upon a time in the Army, thinking and planning was based on what is essential. Not how much something costs, but whether doing it or not doing it is difference between success and failure. Living and dying. If the objective is to simply cut the national budget, then you can hack and slash until you get it where you want it, but not at the expense of putting our nation in danger.
What is our objective? Is it to defend our nation?
Some years ago, I participated in a research project on the World War I battle of the Meusse-Argonne. The offensive ended on November 11, 1918, which was also the end of the war to end all wars. The research did not begin with the battle itself, but necessarily with the pre-war years and the state of our Army from the beginning. It was important for us to learn what it took to win the decisive campaign of the war.
Before World War I, the strength of our ill-equipped standing Army was less than 100,000 men. With the rapid buildup for war we did not have sufficient equipment, even small arms, for the men we were sending to battle the Germans who had arguably the best Army on the planet at the time. We were so poorly equipped that many of our ”Doughboys” completed only rudimentary basic training and never fired a rifle before setting sail for Europe. Once there, they learned to shoot with British Enfield rifles. After all, we did not have any. The Europeans had a low opinion of us and our abilities, but welcomed the replacement stream of bodies.
So, how did we ultimately defeat a well-trained, battle hardened, and well-equipped German Army? We overwhelmed them. American Soldiers represented an infinite replacement stream of bodies while the German stream, worn down by years of war was rather finite. At the top of the Konigstuhl, in Heidelberg, Germany there is a German War cemetery. Some German Soldiers killed in World War I were re-buried there after the cemetery was built during the National Socialist years. Teenagers. We were not the better Army. We were not better trained or equipped. The Germans simply ran out of Soldiers. They filled their cemeteries with a lost generation of teenagers.
In the Army it is understood that the Generals will sometimes make mistakes. It is also understood that it is ultimately the Soldiers who pay for them. But understand clearly that it is the mistakes and ill-conceived miscalculations of politicians that ultimately fill our gardens of stone with the bodies of American Soldiers.
Not long ago, I wrote about Carter’s Army. It was an Army beaten down and worn out by years of combat in Vietnam. Its morale busted by liberal politicians, their allies in the media and a seemingly ungrateful public. Carter’s defense cuts further hollowed out the force. Our Army was in a sad and dangerous state. It was brought to that state by political bungling of a war and political disdain for those serving in uniform. Instead of regenerating the force, Mr. Carter cut it.
At the height of the Cold War, our standing active Army strength was around 760,000. Down came the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union. Washington politicians were dancing in the marble hallways of the Capitol as peace dividend dollar signs destined for pet projects and cronies rang up in their beady eyes.
But not so fast, insisted Sadaam Hussein.
Being the only nation on the planet with the ability to project such power, we ultimately deployed the heavily armored 7th Corps to the desert. They rolled through and over Iraq’s “elite” Republican Guard and decimated the world’s 3rd largest standing army in short order. Political intervention prevented the complete destruction and ouster of the madman. We encouraged revolution then turned our backs while Hussein filled mass graves with would be revolutionaries.
With that great victory, it was finally time to cash in the peace-dividend. There is no more 7th Corps and our Army was reduced to nearly half its Gulf War strength. We were built down, made leaner. Large conventional force on force wars were over or so we were told. Now we were able to focus on important things. Political correctness or the inability to tell the hard truth lest feelings are hurt and our diversity or better described as out of one many rather than out of many one.
Now we have been at war for a long time. Our Soldiers are tired. Their equipment is worn. Political bungling has been the norm. They have endured all of it. Now some politicians believe that we can cure the national debt by cutting the military while we are still fighting the war that Iran started with us in 1979. All of this while throwing money by the bucket load from every government window in the land. Liberal ideology once again trumps reality. Unless we rid ourselves of inept Washington leadership, more young Americans will necessarily become again the infinite stream of replacements trying to restore peace to a world brought to turmoil by political idiocy.
Do you ever watch those wildlife shows on television? The predators do not attack the strong. They cut out the weak and kill it.
Truthfully, he is looking beyond the fate of the country he inherited and the one thing that keeps our nation safe, the powerful military he inherited that keeps the predators away.