US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is recommending billions of dollars in military cuts which would reportedly reduce the size of American armed forces to pre-World War II levels. Defense Secretary Hagel plans on recommending that President Barack Obama to reduce military housing allowances, limit pay raises for soldiers, and increase health care premiums for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the United States.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plan is reportedly part of a broader effort to “trim” the Pentagon’s budget while at the same time minimizing any negative impact on the country’s “preparedness and capability.” Veteran’s groups and lawmakers with a staunch history of support for the military are already lining up in opposition of the Obama administration official’s plan for the armed forces.
The Pentagon is arguing that personnel costs too much of a part of the overall defense budget to ignore.
Defense Department representative Admiral John Kirby had this to say about the budget cuts which are expected to cause a drastic reduction in the world’s largest voluntary military:
“Personnel costs reflect some 50 percent of the Pentagon budget and cannot be exempted in the context of the significant cuts the department is facing. Secretary Hagel has been clear that, while we do not want to, we ultimately must slow the growth of military pay and compensation.”
Military supporters counter such a mindset with questions about financial priorities. Those in opposition of the armed forces cuts wonder why even a penny of taxpayer dollars are being spent in foreign (billions are allotted for fiscal year 2014) aid if the needs of soldiers is not being met and national security could be put at risk.
If Secretary Hagel’s plan is approved, military pay raises would be limited to a 1 percent increase and a pay freeze would be enacted for admirals and generals for one year. Both housing allowances and commissary subsidies for groceries would be reduced. Many Americans were stunned earlier this year when the populace was informed that active military families were relying on food stamps to put food on the table.
According to the Associated Press, Defense Secretary Hagel seeks to cut the size of the Army to approximately 440,000 members. There are about 490,000 members serving currently, down from 570,000 active soldiers during the peak of the post 9/11 era.
A reduction of the United States military to pre-WWII numbers will likely be a focus in upcoming midterm elections. Earlier this month a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress repealed a measure passed in the December budget aimed at slowing the growth of military pensions.
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