Don’t give the Pentagon the pink slip

Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Keim/U.S. Navy

Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Burger, a visit, board, search and seizure team member aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), leads his team across the missile deck toward the bridge during a joint-training exercise with U.S. Coast Guardsmen in the Red Sea on Jan. 14, 2012. The Dewey is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations.

Article Highlights

  • Much more work needs to be done to help the military recover from already ruinous cuts @meaglen

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  • Obama gives the pink slip to 100,000 active duty personnel, and that's just the beginning

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  • Defense sequestration cuts would eliminate more than 1 million American jobs

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Tonight, President Obama spoke at length about revitalizing American manufacturing and betting on American workers.  Citing the courage and determination of America’s service members, the President argued that America can soon get back on its feet.  Despite this soaring rhetoric however, the President’s message is truly frustrating—and hypocritical.  The administration’s policies are directly contributing to unemployment and the decline of American industry, and what is more, they are putting our men and women in uniform at risk by denying them the cutting edge technology they need.

The President is already giving the pink slip to 100,000 active duty personnel.  These are soldiers and Marines who are returning home from combat only to find that the government that they risked their lives to defend no longer wishes to employ them.  And these cuts are only the beginning.

"This hurts our national security but more importantly, it hurts our men and women putting their lives on the line for all of us."--Mackenzie Eaglen

The sequestration cuts triggered by the failure of the Super Committee would eliminate more than one million jobs across America as production lines shut down and the defense industrial base falls into decay.  The cuts from sequestration alone would raise national unemployment by .6%. 

It gets worse.  The sequestration cuts would not just end jobs—they would gut research, development, and procurement of vital next-generation programs that the military relies upon to maintain technological dominance on the battlefield.  Since the Second World War, America has maintained a simple contract with its armed forces: America will send you into battle when necessary to protect the nation’s vital interests, but when you go to war, you will do so with the finest equipment and training possible. 

Over the past few years, the Obama administration has been all too quick to say to the military, “Maybe you don’t need quite the best equipment. Maybe you can get by with older planes, ships, and tanks.”  This hurts our national security but more importantly, it hurts our men and women putting their lives on the line for all of us.   This would be irresponsible for any President, but it rings especially hypocritical for one who puts such emphasis on everyday hardworking Americans. 

The future does not have to be like this.  President Obama can maintain America’s contract with its military and help keep American jobs by working to undo the disastrous sequestration cuts and infusing much-needed capital into the defense budget.  More work—much more work—needs to be done in order to help the military recover from already ruinous reductions, but as the President himself said, “America remains the one indispensible nation in the world.”  Let us resolve to keep it that way.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow at AEI

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