Wednesday, February 26, 2014

budget games

This is the season for budget games, when the winners and losers try to frame issues for the next round in Congress. This is when budget increases are labeled "cuts" because the figure is lower than somebody previously forecast. This is when one groups claims it was "targeted" because it got less than it wanted.

I don't know what size the U.S. Army should be two years from now, but I know that all of the services face severe budget constraints. I was disappointed, but not surprised, when the meme circulating in the media was "smallest army since before World War II."  Wrong on several counts, as various others have pointed out.
As one observer notes, the actual army strength in 1940 was barely half what the proposed cuts would leave, and that 1940 figure included what later became the independent air force. A much better reporter, Tony Capaccio for Bloomberg, notes that the proposed army force level is lower than just before the 9/11 attacks. Another analysis suggests that this was a win for the army.

I was also disappointed to see the knee-jerk reactions of groups representing military personnel in strident opposition to any increases in their fees and copayments for the military health insurance programs. Senior military leaders are now leading the charge, as only they can, is making the case for restraints on personnel costs in order to maintain readiness and modernization. I hope Congress takes their advice on this issue.

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