The following is an excerpt from MICHAEL AUSLIN | May 7, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 32 | TheWeeklyStandard.com |
The release of the Obama administration’s defense budget in January makes clear just how the president intends to reshape the U.S. military. For starters, the Army will shrink 14 percent by 2017, the Marines will decrease by 20,000, six Air Force fighter squadrons will be deactivated, and the Navy will make do with fewer ships. Putting skin on this skeleton is the Defense Strategic Guidance, released in January at the Pentagon. Most significantly, the document calls for a shift of resources to Asia and promises that America will “maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged” by states like China and Iran. Yet in Secretary of Defense Panetta’s own words, U.S. forces will have to do this while facing “profound challenges” and relying on “low-cost and small-footprint approaches” to achieving national security objectives.
Unfortunately, the president’s goals cannot be met by the ends he proposes. In particular, the administration’s plans will demand a much greater role for the airpower capabilities of both the Air Force and Navy. Yet under current plans both services will see their qualitative and quantitative air edge over competitors shrink, as they lose airplanes, operate an aging force, and face greater threats from adversaries.
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