Cut defense, invest in American people
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 21:01
We are a wartime generation. For many of us, the majority of our lives has been spent with the United States fighting wars – wars that, in my opinion, were lost the day they began.
According to the Huffington Post, experts at Brown University calculate these wars have cost us more than $2 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, including our troops, allies and civilians. And now, a decade later, we are finally seeing these wars come to an end, many of our troops come home and, most recently, the defense budget come down.
The New York Daily News reported that last week, President Barack Obama declared that the "tide of war is receding" and outlined a new strategy for the U.S. military. The proposal includes defense spending cuts up to $470 billion. The Washington Post details this transition. Rather than maintain a military force enough to fight two simultaneous wars, the Pentagon will maintain resources to fight one conventional war as well as other unconventional wars, which have a smaller fiscal impact and American death toll. This includes Special Operation forces, unmanned aircraft and cyber security.
Most recently, the Obama administration decided to remove two out of the four Army brigades stationed in Europe. There are approximately 80,000 troops currently in the region. This decision will result in a reduction of about 10,000 to 15,000 troops. In total, the Pentagon hopes to decrease its soldiers from 560,000 to 490,000, according to The Washington Post.
As the president told reporters last week at the Pentagon, these changes will make our military leaner; however, the renewed focus on research and development and unconventional warfare will create an agile military "flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats," according to CNN.
Some in Congress, such as Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, claim that this new policy will weaken America's standing in the world, saying, "This is a lead-from-behind strategy for a left-behind America," according to The Washington Post.
Well, I have some news for McKeon: This policy isn't leaving America behind. What has left this country behind is a decade of war, trillions of dollars wasted on war and countless lives lost.
Cuts to defense spending are what we need to do to put America first. We need to cut defense and invest in our citizens. Rather than nation-building abroad, we need to rebuild our own nation and create a strong foundation for future generations – generations that I hope will be, unlike ours, free from war.
And while investing in the future, we must also not forget those who have served in these past wars. According to Russia Today, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves than were killed in combat in 2010; there were 468 soldiers who took their own lives, while 462 died in combat. According to the same report, 25 percent of America's homeless are military veterans, and unemployment among veterans is approximately 12 percent. The American Jobs Act, signed into law by Obama last November, should help our veterans combat the battles they face everyday upon returning home.
As we move forward, I hope we continue to cut defense and invest in the people of this great country. I fully understand the importance of a strong and global military presence. However, I feel the foundation of our success lies not on the battlefield but in the success of the American people at home.