On Feb. 24, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed shrinking the military budget to its smallest size since before World War II.
The Daily Orange spoke to Robert B. Murrett, the deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, and Jayson Fischer, a sophomore aerospace engineering major who is also an ROTC member. Both offered their thoughts and opinions on the proposal and its potential effects on the U.S. military.
The Daily Orange: Why do you think Chuck Hagel is considering this now?
Robert B. Murrett: Cutbacks are driven by strategy, and moreover, by resource considerations stemming from the Budget Control Act and follow-on legislation.
Jayson Fischer: I guess it’s because everything in Iraq and Afghanistan is settling down and we’re drawing out of that. That was our last major conflict. We don’t really have any major conflicts going on right now.
The D.O.: What do you think this means for the U.S. military?
J.F.: The U.S. military is definitely going to take a massive hit. Shortening the budget has always been a problem for the military because it can’t afford to pay the people. Especially if you get 20 or more years of service, you get a percentage of your paycheck after you retire from the military, so that’s still a lot of where the bill is going — to the veterans. They obviously don’t want to shorten up the manpower because having a strong military has always been a main part of our country, so places where they take it out is the training.
The D.O.: How will it affect the U.S.’s security?
R.M.: They will result in slightly smaller force levels for the U.S. military, but our overall national security will still be sound.
J.F.: We won’t see the effects for a couple of years, but it’ll definitely cut back on the new incoming military personnel.
D.O.: Do you think it’ll affect the ability to fight opponents?
R.M.: We will still be able to counter our adversaries, and our ability to train and equip our forces will still be of a high standard.
J.F.: When there’s any sort of war or conflict, numbers do play a major factor. It won’t be as big of a factor as it would’ve been in the Civil War or the American Revolution, but it’ll still play a significant factor because if you don’t have the manpower you don’t do anything. But technology wise, we’re so far advanced that we can accomplish more with less people than we could in World War II.
The D.O.: What do you think this means financially with training and actual missions?
J.F.: In ROTC, I’m supposed to be doing a training session this summer, which for the past 30 years has been 28 days in Alabama with six sessions. This is the first year that, because of all the budget cuts, it got shortened to five sessions and only 22 days. They can’t afford to pay everybody. So the area that it is affecting most is the incoming people.
The D.O.: How do you think it’ll affect the public perception of America’s safety?
R.M.: There may be some public perceptions regarding overall safety/security, but this is not a new thing. Many of us lived through more significant cutbacks in the ‘70s and ‘90s.
J.F.: The military doesn’t really do too much inside the country unless there’s something major going on inside the country. One thing that might happen is the National Guard will get a lot smaller, so if the National Guard gets a lot smaller, they would have less people ready to move in if there was a natural disaster. The National Guard gets called in from all around the country and goes help to clean up and make sure everyone’s OK. But if that decreases, the public may say, “Hey, there was a disaster, why didn’t the country help us?”
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