As the Obama administration prepares to present a budget to Congress that includes $487 billion in military cuts over the next 10 years, some experts are warning that the downsized defense that is planned could severely jeopardize the nation’s security posture. As reported by the Associated Press, the projected military cuts announced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (photo) January 26 would include slashing combat brigades from 45 to as low as 32, and shrinking Army ground forces by at least 80,000 soldiers and the Marines by about 20,000 over the next five years.
According to the AP, Pentagon officials said that “plans call for the active duty Army to shrink from a high of about 570,000 soldiers to roughly 490,000 over the next decade or so. Initial cuts have been ongoing, and there are currently about 558,000 active duty soldiers in the Army.”
In addition, the proposal calls for the Air Force to retire some of its aging aircraft, including about two dozen C-5As and more than 60 older C-130 cargo planes, and to cut back on the purchase of its F-35 stealth fighter jets. One increase would be a 30-percent spike in the number of drones the Air Force has in the sky. “The Air Force now operates 61 drone combat air patrols around the clock, with up to four drones in each patrol,” reported the Wall Stree Journal. “Mr. Panetta’s plan calls for the military to have enough drones to comfortably operate 65 combat air patrols constantly with the ability to temporarily surge to 85 combat air patrols….”
As for the Navy, it “would keep a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers but retire seven cruisers earlier than planned,” reported Fox News of the plan. The proposal would also delay the addition of some specialized vessels such as the new Virginia-class submarine. Additionally. Fox noted, “plans for building a new generation of submarines that carry long-range nuclear missiles would be delayed by two years.”
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