Today, as we are faced with more dangerous enemies than at any time in our history, President Obama has decided to cut back our military forces. China, our philosophical adversary and economic Pied Piper to whom we now dance, is on an all out march to increase its military presence throughout the Pacific, with apparent intentions to expand that presence to the Indian Ocean (they currently a new aircraft carrier undergoing sea trials which apparently caught Western---and US intelligence agencies off guard). Iran, with its unstable president, is flexing its miniscule muscle in the Gulf of Hormuz in an attempt to threaten Western oil flow while it works feverously to develop nuclear weapons to "create a world without Israel or America". They’ve come quite a way with their missile system, thanks in part to the Chinese. North Korea remains as threatening as ever, especially with the untried wet-behind-the-ears Kim Joug-un as leader. For some time this bankrupt but nuclear Stalinist nation has been itching for a fight. Let's not forget Pakistan, another nuclear nation verging on going rouge. Afghanistan and Iraq could easily slide down the path to Islamic extremism.
Terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda are expanding their presence in the Pacific region and in Africa while Somali pirates continue to attack oil tankers, commercial fishing boats and civilian cruise ships, and inflicting billions in costs. In fact, despite the pro-democratic "Arab Spring", almost to a country, extremist Anti-Western parties have walked away the winners. Militant Islam is spreading rapidly throughout the world. Drugs lords are winning the war in Mexico and South America with Mexico teetering on becoming nothing more than a huge narco-terrorist state, which is increasingly spilling across US borders (The Obama Administration has already ceded three Arizona counties to them...seriously), and there is talk of perhaps a partnership of convenience between the narco-terrorists and the Islamic terrorists. Illegal immigration has become rampant, not just in America, but in Europe as well with an infusion of poor, illiterate Moslems swelling to towns and cities of Europe, putting a breaking strain on their economic systems. One doesn't have to be a historian to recall the fates of the Roman and Byzantine Empires when, for economic reasons, they cut their back on their militaries.
Let's take look at the numbers. American maintains approximately 1200 bases around the world (give or take a CIA station or two). Our military budget in 2011 was $549 billion with an estimated $150 billion in foreign reserve and gold in case things get dicey (some estimates put the number as high as $692 billion). That's about 4.9% of our GDP, or 43% of what is spent on the military globally. We have just over 1.4 million active duty men and women and another 833,616 reservists. At this point in history, I dare say just about all are combat experienced. Our current naval ship strength is 285 vessels, including 47 auxiliary (supply) ships, 14 mine sweepers and 11 carriers, bringing our surface fleet to 123 ships to cover the world's oceans and 21 key naval ports and terminals. This is down from 592 ships when Ronald Reagan left office.
The Army has just over 56,000 land vehicle, along with some 200,000 logistical vehicles and over 9000 tanks, 2163 pieces of towed artillery, plus a mess of other heavy firepower designed to put a hurt on the bad guys. We have over 18,000 aircraft, not to mention 6,214 helicopters capable of flying out of 15,097 designated airports. So, with all this "bad day" military might, one would think we're strong enough. Well, not so fast.
As I pointed out above, we have half the fleet we did covering a much more hostile ocean, not to mention 12,363 miles of US coastline. Our military has already seen a 37% reduction. Now, how does that compare to other nations? Well, China has a total military force of 4,585,000 (and the Pentagon has estimated they will have a fully modern military by 2020) despite a 28% reduction in overall growth. Taiwan has 290,000 active duty personnel with an estimated 1,200,000 in reserve. Iran has 3,833,000 (compare this to Israel’s 749,550) while reducing military related expenditures by 16% (is this the result of a shift to “non-military” research?). Russia can field a force of 21,476,000 (including their reserves. Their active military strength is 1,027,000), which is still impressive given a 71% reduction. Despite its size and economic importance, Saudi Arabia has only 249,000 troops. North Korea has a force of 9,495,000, of which 1,106,000 are regular military. Compare this to its neighbor, South Korea, which has only 687,000 full time military, though their military expenditures have been increase by 14%. Germany and Japan have 250,613 and 230,300 respectively, not including their reservists. Japan has back off its military expenditures slightly, by 3%, partly as the result of recent natural disasters and its economic impact. Despite being the economic powerhouse of Europe, Germany has backed off by a mind numbing 56% (our key ally, England, has been forced to cut back its military growth by a whopping 36% while France, has cut back 37%).
We all realize that America is deep financial trouble, thanks mainly to mismanagement and incompetence by both political parties in Washington. However, to cut our military budget is invite danger. While we are more technologically sophisticated than we were just 10 years ago, we are also more at risk to cyber-attacks and systems failures. We need to accept that while large scale military engagements are a thing of the past, so too is the concept that reliance on technology can replace boots on the ground or ships at sea.
Obama Unveils Sweeping Military Cuts
US Navy Active Ship Levels, 1886 to Present:
Active Duty Military Personnel, 1940 to 2011
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List of Countries by Troops
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