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Cutting the military: Unacceptable strategy

| Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Budget-cutting must not weaken national security. But that's what the Pentagon's new 10-year plan for dealing with sequestration would do. And defense-budget experts from both ends of the political spectrum agree.

The Pentagon's Strategic Choices and Management Review lays out $500 billion in cuts that would shrink the Army to fewer than 400,000 troops, retire but not replace more than half of Air Force bombers and eliminate two or three Navy aircraft-carrier strike groups. Speaking at the liberal Brookings Institution, both Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon and the conservative American Enterprise Institute's Mackenzie Eaglen criticized the plan.

Both said it would render the Pentagon unable to fight two conflicts at once. With China increasingly flexing its military muscle, Iran, North Korea and the Syrian situation still threatening and new threats sure to arise, that's not an acceptable strategy.

Defense, about 20 percent of federal spending, nevertheless bears more than 40 percent of sequestration cuts — cuts in addition to nearly $1 trillion that this administration already has cut from military spending, The Heritage Foundation notes. Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The congressional counterparts of the liberal Mr. O'Hanlon and the conservative Ms. Eaglen must emulate their consensus and act to prevent these disastrous sequestration cuts to the military — “a budget-driven exercise devoid of any strategic planning,” as Heritage puts it.

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