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US War Machine Downsizing? 506

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the how-will-we-defeat-zombie-stalin-now? dept.
mrspoonsi writes "BBC Reports: 'Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel — from 520,000 currently. The U.S. currently spends more on defense than the combined total of the next 12 countries, as ranked by defense spending.'"
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US War Machine Downsizing?

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  • Drone Occupation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:12PM (#46330053) Homepage Journal

    Of Planet Earth is near completion.

    The rest can be sub-contracted.

    • Re:Drone Occupation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:33PM (#46330237)
      Sigh! Mechanization kills another American job.

      Before you know it, well be able to fight a complete war without risking a single soldier.

      Since the bar for invasion of another sovereign state is already set fairly low, what future transgression will be enough when no dead heroes need to return home? Iran looked at me funny!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:08PM (#46330477)

        We attacked last week over a EULA violation.

      • Before you know it, well be able to fight a complete war without risking a single soldier.

        Define risk.

        The drone pilots at Nellis (Las Vegas) end up with PTSD like field soldiers do.

        Worse still, programmers assigned to classified projects - required to use only known approved secure development tools and libraries - are driven slowly insane by having to spend 6 months to accomplish something they know could be done in 6 days with freely available, but not approved, tools.

        • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:31PM (#46331023)

          The drone pilots at Nellis (Las Vegas) end up with PTSD like field soldiers do.

          While true, that is only because the screening program for that job weeds out abnormal people. Normal people simply don't want to kill other people, either in person or via remote control.

          However, such people do exist... Once the military figures out that they can get socially maladjusted people to fly the drones, they'll have no problems, because such people couldn't care less about killing "ragheads" or whoever the "bad guy of the week" happens to be.

          • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @04:03AM (#46332097) Homepage Journal

            Once the military figures out that they can get socially maladjusted people to fly the drones, they'll have no problems, because such people couldn't care less about killing "ragheads" or whoever the "bad guy of the week" happens to be.

            Maybe fewer problems with PTSD, but one needs to remember that the military isn't just about violence, it's about controlled violence.

            You get somebody who doesn't care, much less enjoys it, and you increase the already present problems of uncontrolled or misdirected violence. And that costs more than a few cases of PTSD. I mean, besides the waste of drone time and the cost of the munitions you also have destroyed property that you end up paying for, medical bills for the survivors, settlements with the families of the deceased, lowered public perception, protests and sanctions from other governments*, etc...

            *For example, something as simple as denying the US Navy access to a port can cost us MILLIONS in shipping and resupply costs.

        • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:38PM (#46331069)

          Actually I've heard the PTSD can be even worse - the human brain is apparently not that well suited to killing people 8-to-5 and then going home to the wife and kids who can't relate at all.

          On the other hand fully autonomous killing machines are currently being field-tested, and especially when there are no friendlies on the ground I fully such things to be deployed in a big way within a decade or two. And then we'll see just how ugly and expansionist the US war machine can really be.

          Fully autonomous programmer-drones on the other hand I don't expect to see any time soon.

      • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:44PM (#46331103) Homepage Journal

        Since the bar for invasion of another sovereign state is already set fairly low, what future transgression will be enough when no dead heroes need to return home

        I thought it was common knowledge that since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the US Gov't has been waging an escalating war on Private Citizens culminating in the last few year in new and improved ways to conduct mass surveillance, removal of their rights to a trial and killing them in drone strikes.

        No more pussy-footing around with stupid attempts at tyranny like saying "We Need to Suspend the Constitution for the War on Drugs" like Bush I stated to the nation. Now days we just call it "National Security" while we have a drone blow up a car carrying a US Citizen because he's a suspected terrorist sympathizer or wipe out a bunch of people attending a funeral because "intelligence sources confirmed a number of terrorists were likely to be present"

  • by litehacksaur111 (2895607) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:13PM (#46330071)
    As Eisenhower warned in his farewell address, I hope this news means we have finally heeded his warning and are moving towards dismantling the military industrial complex. All of that money could be used to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure we have right here at home.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I concur. Well said, sir. Our nation really needs it badly. We've been fucking with other people's countries for so long; we've forgotten to take care of our own.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:24PM (#46330155)

      All of that money could be used to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure we have right here at home.

      Oh, that would be pointless. Meth-heads will just steal the rebuilt infrastructure to sell to scrap metal dealers, again.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:35PM (#46330253)

      I hope this news means we have finally heeded his warning and are moving towards dismantling the military industrial complex.

      No. That is not what is happening. Almost all the proposed reductions are to fighting troops. Almost no cuts are to the bloated defense bureaucracy that make up the core of the MIC's revolving door. Hagel wants to reduce the muscle while protecting the belly fat. He is going about it all wrong anyway. Rather than trimming a little here, and a little there, it would be much better to completely eliminate a few big misguided programs. Killing the trillion dollar F-35 boondoggle would be a great place to start.

      • by icebike (68054) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:52PM (#46330377)

        The last time we had such a recommendation it was to totally get rid of the Marine Corps.
        The next hear Gulf 1 started, and Kuwait was over run, and those same "useless" Marines once again arrived the firstest with the mostest.

        • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Monday February 24, 2014 @11:34PM (#46331043)
          The Army and Air Force need to be merged and the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines need to be merged. The overlap there is just nuts, tons of overhead, procurement programs, command structure, etc...

          So you'd be left with an Army who does everything on land and a Navy who does everything at sea (and does landings on coasts, then hands off to the Army at about the 15 mile point inland).

          • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:04AM (#46331485)
            The US Navy and Marine Corp are "merged" in some ways, command, procurement, etc. Together they represent the Naval Services commanded by the Department of the Navy.

            For example look at Marine Corp Aviation. Marine pilots are trained at the same schools along side Navy pilots and the Navy and Marines essentially fly the same aircraft. Marine squadrons are often deployed on aircraft carriers. There is one notable difference with respect to Marine pilots. They must first become infantry officers before starting aviation training.

            The Coast Guard also falls under the Department of the Navy when directed to do so by the President. This happened during WW1 and WW2. Normally the Coast Guard is performing missions that the military is prohibited from doing, law enforcement for example.
          • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:33AM (#46331639)

            The Army and Air Force need to be merged and the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines need to be merged.

            Canada did that decades ago, and it has been problematic in various ways. They have been "unmerging," assuming more of their old identifies.

            Royal Canadian Navy [wikipedia.org]

            On 16 August 2011, the government renamed Maritime Command the "Royal Canadian Navy", renamed Air Command the "Royal Canadian Air Force" and Land Force Command the "Canadian Army".

            There has even been talk of Canada forming its own marine corps. It will be interesting to see which way they go with that if they do, something along the British model, the American model, or a hybrid. Perhaps the news will some day report, "Today, Canadian Royal Marine commandos took part in a daring mission to .... "
             

      • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:07PM (#46330465)

        Hagel wants to reduce the muscle while protecting the belly fat. He is going about it all wrong anyway.

        No, he's eliminating the parts of the Regular Army that can be (relatively) easily replaced by National Guard troops in time of trouble. He's keeping in place things like divisional command structures (we already have two divisions that are nothing more than HQ's to be filled out with 3 NG Brigades each in time of trouble) and the rear area parts of the Army which are needed in case we have to suddenly expand the force.

        Then again, he's getting rid of the A-10 also. Which is probably a bribe to the Air Force, since they've always hated having to provide close air support to the Army....

        • Last I heard every time the Air Force wanted to drop the A-10 the Army raised it's hand and said 'We'll take it, We'll find the money'.

          The Air Force can't have the Army flying fixed wing aircraft. So there it stood.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:52PM (#46330755)

          Then again, he's getting rid of the A-10 also.

          The A-10 was bought and paid for decades ago, so that is not a big savings.

          Number of times we have need air-to-ground support, like the A-10 delivers, in the last two decades: tens of thousands.
          Number of times we we have need an air superiority fighter, like the F-35, in the last two decades: 0.

          Of course, the F-35 can do close air support, but it does it no better than the A-10, despite costing far, far, more to build, operate, and maintain.

        • No, he's eliminating the parts of the Regular Army that can be (relatively) easily replaced by National Guard troops in time of trouble.

          No, there are no such things. In times of trouble we activate both the Army and the National Guard. See: The Persian Gulf. Not only did we activate them, but we subjected them to stop-loss programs (See: Slavery.)

    • Sadly, I think the downsizing of troops is a direct result of un-manned weapons like drones.
    • by cupantae (1304123)

      right here at home

      insensitive clod, etc.

  • by qw(name) (718245) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:16PM (#46330093) Journal
    They are saying that they are downsizing but before it takes affect we get involved in a war. No need to downsize. Problem solved.
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:19PM (#46330121) Homepage Journal

    Or are they just privatizing more military functions?

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:41PM (#46330289)

      If these changes go through, it will actually reduce spending. We spent $670B on "defense" in 2013. This change would get us down to around $500B for the 2015 budget.

      This was already passed as a part of the sequester -- this story is really just discussing how the Pentagon plans to get under the limit set by the law. The budget that got passed in December rolled back a few of the sequester cuts, and I'm sure Republicans will push to roll back more. However, the Democrats will want new taxes on the rich to offset any further increases in military spending, and I doubt the Republicans will budge on that front, so any further changes are likely to be minimal.

      It looks like this is actually going to happen, and it's about damn time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cold fjord (826450)

        However, the Democrats will want new taxes on the rich to offset any further increases in military spending, and I doubt the Republicans will budge on that front, so any further changes are likely to be minimal.

        Likewise the Democrats will almost certainly balk at any reforms to social welfare spending, which is the major portion of Federal spending and which dwarfs the defense budget.

        • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:34PM (#46330609)

          I don't see how that's relevant. We're talking about negotiations here. Increased military spending and decreased social spending are both things Republicans want.

          I was pointing out that the Republicans don't have anything they're willing to trade in order to stem the sequester cuts to military spending. The only way they could stave off the cuts would be by accepting increased taxes, and they're not willing to do that.

          I get the feeling you took my comment as a slight against Republicans, and posted some knee-jerk response. I'm only pointing out the reality of the negotiations.

          • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:56AM (#46331735)

            Increased military spending and decreased social spending are both things Republicans want.

            In the last days of the USSR it's what the communists wanted, and did, as well.

      • by icebike (68054)

        It won't reduce spending.
        If you believe that you are delusional.

  • Spending the money on killing machines doesn't win you anti-bloat points.
     
    Shrink the budget. Shrink the percentage of budget based on adjusted GDP. We're becoming all brawn and no brain.

    • To be clear: Drones and Secrets instead of Troops on the Ground... That doesn't mean we shrank our war machine.

  • Finally The Man is acting like a true progressive. Most of his policies have been either centrist or conservative-leaning (despite Fox/Rush characterizations). Even the "commie" ACA (ObamaCare) was borrowed from the Heritage Foundation and a former Republican governor of MA.

  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:31PM (#46330229) Journal

    Ha! I'm going to beat him to it. I just need to steal some super-rare crystals stored at Los Alamos first, to complete my shrink ray. And a white kitten.

  • by ClassicASP (1791116) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:39PM (#46330279)
    I'd me more surprised if it were the marines or the navy seals being downsized. The Army is a lot of bulk manpower that just sits around for the most part and maintains control of areas that have already been seized from the enemy via the attacking efforts of the marines. Advancements of technology means drones and stationary automated turrets can do a lot of that defending work I'd imagine. Just gotta have some protected folks around to maintain control and change the batteries every now and then. Probably way more affordable than actual people. The marines and seals on the other hand can't be so easily replaced by a machine.
    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:58PM (#46330411)
      A Recon Marine, a Navy Seal, and an Army Ranger sat around the fire one evening discussing who was the toughest.

      The Recon Marine described his training, which included being dropped off in the middle of nowhere with a mark on a map for a rendezvous point, and his diet of raw bugs and reptiles as he struggled toward the LZ for five days.

      The Navy man regaled with the legendarily difficult, 90+% failure rate, Seal training program that requires a man to learn to swim like a fish, but kill like a lion.

      The Ranger took a long,quiet look at the others, squatted on his haunches, and stirred the coals in the fire with his fingers.

  • With the US amounting for 50% of army expenses worldwide, and NATO accounting for 80%, it is not obvious where the enemies are.

    The USSR does not exist anymore. A much smaller army would protect US security as well as the current one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by felrom (2923513)

      Southeast Asia.

      China just launched its second aircraft carrier. India just launched its first, is building two more, and is buying 120 Rafales. South Korea is buying Apaches and F-15s (or maybe F-35s). Malaysia and Thailand want to buy AH-1Zs. Thailand is also modernizing its current fleet of western fighter planes. Japan just launched its first helicopter attack ship, is buying V-22s, and is no longer keeping up the pretense of only having a defensive force. The Philippines is begging us to come back

    • With the US amounting for 50% of army expenses worldwide, and NATO accounting for 80%, it is not obvious where the enemies are.

      As part of your calculations you need to take into account the "cost of materials." The US doesn't have conscription anymore like most of the world has relied upon until quite recently. It pays its soldiers wages and benefits competitive with the civilian work force instead of forcing everyone to serve for two years at $100/month. The US also has an advanced economy. The net effect is that a US corporal is paid about the same as a Chinese general. The US also pays more for its weapons and materials. A

  • ... Federal Spending will still increase.

  • Seems like the world is getting more dangerous and we are spending money on retirees and freeloaders instead. I'm sure this will end well.
  • by Taelron (1046946) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:26PM (#46330559)
    The Marine Corps handles 90 to 95% of all "Peace Time" military actions while subsisting on the hand-me downs from the other branches and a paltry 3% of the Defense Budget. Navy Seal teams get more money for training ammo than the entire Marine Corps.

    At the beginning of the 1st Gulf War, the Marines were just getting the M1 Abrahms tanks the Army was swapping out for newer models (before that the Marines were still on old M60 tanks).

    In the late 90's (97-98) the Marines were just starting to get the venerable Singars radios. Up till then they were still using post-Vietnam era AN/PRC-77 radios.

    Time and time again the Army goes and asks for more men and money, new gear, etc, because they state they cant accomplish the mission with what they have.

    And time and time again the Marine Corps happily takes that "old outdated" equipment with fewer men and exceed... There has long been a rivalry between the branches, but maybe its time for the other branches to take a page out of the Corps manual and learn how to do more with less. You could drop military spending by half at least, if not more, by following the Marines lead.

  • Here's a better idea: Scale the US Army down to about 100,000, or less. Retain a small full-time force to man the equipment and technology-heavy portions of an army (e.g. armor, artillery and highly-specialized forces), though even most of those can be turned over to national guard forces (especially artillery), and use the rest to form a training and logistics cadre whose job it is to prepare to train and equip an actual army, should we need one.

    To make that easier, encourage the unorganized militia to s

  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:47AM (#46331417)
    These cut are a step in the right direction, But I would love to see them cut the size in half. I'm an American and do not like what we have been doing in the years since 9/11. That being said there are a lot of countries that rely on the U.S. to be their protectors and I am tired of that also. So many countries can afford to be prosperous because they don't need to spend much on military, let them fund their own military and we can spend our money here, where we need it. All our military is really doing is pissing the rest of the world off anyway.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:28AM (#46331611)

    The U.S. currently spends more on defense than the combined total of the next 12 countries, as ranked by defense spending.

    But that isn't really a fair comparison. After all, a lot of that spending is really for aggression, not defense.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @07:10AM (#46332539) Homepage
    If I remember correctly, I think it was called "The Fall of the Roman Empire".
  • by fygment (444210) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @08:45AM (#46332801)

    At a worst case of about 80,000, the US ARMY is downsizing more people than are employed in the Royal Canadian Army, Navy, and,/i> Air Force put together.

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