The pressure on the Department of Defense budget is immense. Cuts have been occurring and will continue for the foreseeable future. That’s not in question. The only question is what form those cuts will take. Early retirements of ships? Maintenance? Training? Troops? Armor? Ship to shore connectors? The list of budget cut candidates goes on … The only sure thing is that the very last thing the Navy will give up is new construction. But, I digress.
There’s a broader aspect to the coming budget cuts and that is the issue of “boots on the ground”. There’s a bit of a perfect storm coming which will cause disproportionate cuts in the land forces, meaning the Army and Marines.
- The country is war-weary and wants no part of another “boots on the ground” war anytime soon. No war, no need for troops, right? So goes the emerging line of thinking, at any rate.
- UAVs are the hot commodity right now. The military seemingly can’t get enough of them and the political administration loves the ability to strike without using troops and with no risk of captured/killed airmen.
- The Pacific Pivot is geared towards
and any conflict with China will be largely a naval and air power exercise – at least, it had better be. It would be the height of folly to engage in a land war with China . China
- Manning is seen as the major component of operating and support costs, whether rightly or wrongly. The right or wrong of it depends on how one chooses to view the issue and the assumptions one applies. However, that’s a topic for another time. Manning is increasingly seen as an easy way to reduce operating costs and the pressure to cut manning levels is enormous.
For these reasons, I see the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Marines absorbing the brunt of future budget cuts. This will, on a relative basis, aid the Navy in the short to intermediate term. I just wish the Navy had a better vision for using the monies that will be available to them!