Deflating a military spending balloon

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland 20 January 2012 The US military will still invest in special operations and unmanned technology

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America is cutting 100,000 combat troops. Plans for new subs and fighter jets have been put on hold. Older ships and aeroplanes will be scrapped.

This, of course, is all driven by the need to spend less. But it isn't only that.

It is all but politically inconceivable that America is going to fight a ground war and occupy another country - at least under this president.

Where possible, President Barack Obama favours quick in-and-out operations by special forces, such as the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden or rescue the hostages in Somalia.

Drone attacks on America's enemies have shot up since Mr Obama has been in the White House.

Of course, war is not always going to be that asymmetrical. The US could face challenges more severe than a bunch of criminal hostage-takers.

So aircraft carriers will be used to project American power in the Pacific and in places like the Strait of Hormuz.

The Middle East, they say, is a new priority (remind me, where is Iraq, again?).

Some Republicans say this dangerous: you can never tell what the next threat will be and you have to be tooled up to deal with any conceivable danger.

But this is about deflating the ballooning of military spending after 9/11.

America will still have more fighting troops in the future than it did in 2002 and dramatically out-spend its nearest rival, China.

Size isn't everything. America and its allies won quickly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but neither war is ending with a solid sense of "mission accomplished."

After these cuts, the US will still be the most formidable fighting force the world has ever known. Just not quite as big as it once was.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Whats the betting that as/when the republicans get back into power they reverse this decision?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I do not know how GOP will react with this reduction of troops & spending. It is very clear lately that US need to get rid of two main diseases if it want to prosper & remain a first world country in future. These two are- 1) religious jingoism (extremism?) mainly Christian conservative (to become a truly secular democracy), 2) crony capitalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    About time, our military spending is ridiculous and drove our country into debt. The more we cut, the better, then maybe we can get our economy back on its feet again.

    Of course, with all of the Republicans (Except Paul) harping on about the US leading the free world and being the world's policeman, it's safe to say they'd undo these cuts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    At least they are paying attention to what Ron Paul has been saying for years. However; when you do the math this is only 48.7 billion per year which in itself is a drop in the bucket. I'm also suspicious that this is only a cut in what the military was asking for and not a real scale back in spending.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    That is lot to cut from a budget but is it a very big budget.
    The BBC ran a story recently saying that the US had not only the largest military budget in the world, but that budget was bigger than the 19 next largest spenders combined.
    That does seem pretty staggering
    But then the Coast Guad is under the Dept of Transport. Nuclear Weapons the Dept of Energy, and so it may not even include these.


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