November 21st, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Hollowed out military or empty threats?

By Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

In the budget clash over national defense, the money is in the billions but the rhetoric soars even higher.

And the gloom-and-doom forecasts of possible military cuts seem to get more alarming by the day.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that additional cuts would erode national security and even lead to war, encouraging America's enemies to attack.

"In effect, it invites aggression," he said at the end of last week.

"Devastating," is how he described the potential impact of forced cuts, in a letter to senators.

But one of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon, master phrase-maker, Winslow Wheeler, dismisses this as over-excited talk designed to disguise management failure.

"Panetta, (House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck") McKeon , the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been babbling the worst strains of hysteria," Wheeler told CNN.  "Now they are saying it will encourage other countries to attack. It's pure babble."

Wheeler is a veteran of budget battles working for the Senate and the General Accounting Office.  He now is director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information.

And he is not alone in his concern that the war of words may be obscuring a much more important debate over how the United States defends itself in a more austere time.

"At some time, cooler heads will have to prevail," says Tina Jonas, who had an inside view as Pentagon comptroller and undersecretary of Defense from 2004 to 2008.

She suggests that Panetta may be staking out his territory as a newcomer to the Pentagon. He moved over to the Pentagon this summer from the CIA.

"I think Secretary Panetta, as a new secretary, has to make sure he maintains the support of the military, for whatever tasks come ahead," Jonas told CNN.  "They will test his mettle and see if he is the real deal."

Another former Pentagon insider, Dov Zakheim, who also served as undersecretary of Defense and comptroller from 2001 to 2004 says he thinks Panetta is doing the only thing he can - vigorously oppose the automatic cuts.

"His strategy has to be to avoid the sequestration at all costs," Zakheim said Monday, referring to automatic budget cuts.  "It would go to programs, projects and activities, all the way down into the weeds."

But at the same time Zakheim says he thinks the Pentagon might actually come out ahead if sequestration goes into force and then provides a new breathing space, instead of having Congress dream up and approve cuts now.

"I've argued publicly and privately that I don't think sequestration would be a bad thing," Zakheim said.  Those automatic cuts won't take effect for another 11 months or so, in the 2013 budget. Zakheim says allowing a new review of defense priorities, instead of cuts that Congress might approved right now as part of a comprehensive "super committee" deal, would allow a fresh view.

"The odds of defense getting massacred are pretty slight."

Panetta has warned that without a budget compromise and with the automatic trigger of an additional $600 billion in cuts, the impact will spread throughout the Pentagon, to the war fighters in Afghainstan, to civilian workers at defense companies across the country.

He obviously was feeling impatient when he spoke to shipyard workers in Connecticut last week. "You know, I really urge the leaders in the Congress, I urge this committee:  Suck it up, do what's right for the country," Panetta said to the people who build American submarines.

"You know, I think the country wants these people to govern. That's why we elect people, is to govern, not to just survive in office. We elect them to govern. That involves risks, that involves tough choices, but that's what democracy is all about."

Panetta said in an addendum to his letter to senators Monday the cuts would "generate significant operational risks: delays response time to crises, conflicts, and disasters; severely limits our ability to be forward deployed and engaged around the world; and assumes unacceptable risk in future combat operations."

At the conservative think thank, the Heritage Foundation, Mackenzie Eaglen said that the present polarized debate over defense spending obscures important issues.

"It is a nuanced challenge," she says. "Reductions already have taken place."

The Defense Department right now is digesting more than $450 billion in cuts. Eaglen agrees with the warnings from Panetta and the service chiefs that reductions will mean a hollow force.  She warns that high-end weapons systems may suffer the most, with jets, ships and vehicles nearing the end of their design life and needing replacement.

She points to big cancellations already under the Obama administration for a new helicopter, a fifth-generation F-22 for the Air Force and a longp-range bomber.  In addition, other projects have been pushed into the future - for instance, a new aircraft carrier is now five years out instead of four.

"There are two budgets, because the Defense Department has a war budget and then basically a garrison, peace-time budget as well," Eaglen says.  The war budget is off limits in the present budget debate and the main defense budget has been battered by a series of Congressional missteps in recent years, coming to the brink of government shutdowns, banning increases with continuing resolution that played havoc with planning and spending."

"If I have to cut another $500, $600 billion out of defense, it decimates defense," Panetta told civilians sub-builders in Connecticut. "It's going to totally hollow out the force."

But even the top military man at the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, questions the usefulness of the hollowed-out imagery. "I'm not a huge fan of that phrase," Dempsey said at a conference of Military Reporters and Editors about how the military brass can cope with cuts.

About the automatic cuts, he says it is not just the magnitude but the mechanism that troubles him.

"If it takes and it applies another $600 billion of cuts across the board, you can't fence or protect any particular account," Dempsey told the journalists.  If the automatic cuts are allowed to stand they would be across the board, with everything getting the same 20% whack.  And he portrays the military brass and dialing in various responses to different budget scenarios.  He says the military can cope as long as the service chiefs have the ability to make adjustments in three areas - manpower, modernization and equipment and finally, operations, maintenance and training.

"As long as the service chiefs, and we, retain the ability to affect each of those rheostats, if one of them is not taken away from us, as long as we can affect all three and have time," Dempsey said last week.

"You tell me to do in three years, then I have to spin the dial and then we are off to the races. You tell me we have five years, then we can manage it."

But some Pentagon analysts say heavy cuts are the best outcome for the federal budget and the military itself. Wheeler says the Pentagon budget, even under the worst-case scenario of the automatic cuts under sequestration, would take the Defense Department back to the level of spending in 2007.

"Nobody was screaming doomsday back then," Wheeler says. "The 2007 budget was a peak and not a valley."

Wheeler says that since 9/11 the U.S. has spent $1.3 trillion on wars while at the same time increasing the base defense budget by more than $1 trillion.  "Management of those funds by the Pentagon, the White House and Congress has been abysmal," Wheeler says.  "With the increase in money we got a force that is smaller and older."

Wheeler rejects the Pentagon suggestion that less money means a hollow force.  The ideal result would be a smaller force with newer weapons and infrastructure and, most importantly, a better way of spending its money.  "The way they squandered the money, they have hollowed out the force with more money.  It will take a new management ethic and a whole new team of managers."

About possible exaggeration and overblown rhetoric, Panetta spokesmen push back.  "We're absolutely not overstating the - the devastating consequences of sequestration," Pentagon spokesman George Little says. Earlier Little, reaching for descriptive phrases had painted sequestration as a meat-axe attached to a chain saw.

And Zakheim worries that cuts could reduce the Navy at a time when the United States may want to have a more visible rote in the Pacific and elsewhere.  "You are not really solving the problem, you're aggravating it," Zakheim says, if the U.S. creates a power vacuum on the high seas and allows China to fill it. "Would it be war? No," Zakheim says. "Disaster? It depends."

Wheeler is disappointed that Panetta, heralded as the right man when he arrived at the Pentagon to help navigate rough budget seas, has failed to deliver.

"Panetta is a gross political hack." He says.

And the only glimmer of hope is that a budget squeeze will be a shock to the system.

"Less money is always good shock therapy for over-stuffed bureaucrats," Wheeler says.

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Filed under: Congress • Defense Spending • economy • Military • Obama • Panetta • Pentagon
soundoff (144 Responses)
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  4. Ava Jenkins

    Hey guys, May be the U.S. far much better off sticking with Syria's Assad?

    December 17, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  5. focusonjobs1

    The cuts will result in a much needed deceleration of operational tempo. Our Service men and women have been hard at it for too long with little to show. The GOP has pushed for cuts so hard that excluding the military from the budget ax would be looked on as hypocritical. Our military spending will still exceed everyone.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  6. 411Patriot

    Russia threatens to aim missiles at US targets and Obama and crew do absolutely nothing .... except play partisan politics.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • lkite

      You do realize we have missiles pointed at them and have for over 50years.

      November 24, 2011 at 3:13 am | Reply
  7. Military Pay Exclusions

    Any part of a month served in a "combat" zone excludes all of that months military pay from gross income. Gross income is taxable income. irs.gov

    November 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  8. Newfamilyguy

    The defense budget is justified by creating a boogie man and when he is vanquished we create another. A 3 billion dollar long range bomber will not destroy an idea, long range missiles will not stop a ideological movement. Defense is important, but food is too, and still the majority of us make budgets that we stick to when spending on it. When it comes down to steak or steakem we choose steakem when there is no money for steak. THERE IS NO MONEY FOR STEAK!

    November 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  9. delos

    To the poster who stated that a lot of job creation was halted because the pipe line from canada was postponed,
    What perplex's me is this pipe line is goint to a state that is literally running out of water ,and they want to build a pipeline to pump in oil, make you wonder just how intellegent your average texan. Hint: a pipeline bringing in much need water would create just as many job. and keep your dumb a@@ from drying up and blowing away. Just a thought

    November 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  10. T. L. O'Connell II

    `I am an army brat. Both of my parents severed in the army medical corps. HAve lived on bases all childhood years. I have seen plenty of things that take place, on hourly and daily time tables, that are a complete waste of time and money
    . And have witnessed several talks, by the brass, of idiotic spending habits. There are tons of great ideas flotting around bases all over the would for cost cutting. Like combining airforce and naval bases into 1 base , or, army and airforce. basicly makeing multi force bases. And you would only have to do a dozen or so. This is only 1 idea of many. We do not have to give up protection or ability to respond.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Reply
    • T. L. O'Connell II

      forgive my typos plz lol

      November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
    • lkite

      They are combining Army and Air Force bases. Have been for a few years now.

      November 24, 2011 at 3:15 am | Reply
  11. hamsta

    sounds like hold the mustard cant cut the mustard in the real world.were not paranoid military freaks.theres a real threat out there with one goal,kill americans.i guess he forgot 9/11 happened or is just so stupid he believes that conspiracy crap that it was bush and cheney.

    November 22, 2011 at 11:17 am | Reply
    • crusader12

      When will you Americans realize that the BIGGEST threat to world peace is the size and aggressive nature of your military complex. No one has the goal of "killing Americans". Maybe, just maybe, if you got your big, jewish nose out of everyone else's business the world wouldn't hate you so much. The military is a means to control the people, extorted tax dollars and petty reparations from conquered third-world nations will not save it. Stop the war mongering, stop the weapons manufacturing favoritism. Yes, every country should have a means of self-defense, but not at the price of human rights and this country's social infrastructure. Invading Iraq and Afghanistan under the guise of "self defense" was like Hitler telling the Germans to exterminate communists before they ruin the world. Sheer folly.

      November 22, 2011 at 11:56 am | Reply
  12. JimmyMac72

    And it has come to pass . . .they did elect one who promised much.More of the same. . .whose decisions and policies. . . did no help but hurt. . . whose heart was not in it. . . for ANY of the right reasons. . . and was truly a wolf in sheeps clothing. . .and brought about nothing that helped or did any good. . . the past 13 seasons.

    November 22, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
  13. hamsta

    hey Ryan im with u.if we forced the welfare recipients to work it would free up resources so we could Spend more.but how are u gonna spend with no money coming in?thats the very reason socialism will never work mr. president.

    November 22, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • mart

      So force the welfare recipents to work and what are you going to force them do and what and who is going to pay them. American already is growing virtual slave labour force in the prison work system that is talking jobs from honest poeple. Is the govenrment going to pay them for work now that really starts to sound like socialism. or they going to force companies to hire these people at what a reduced wage now again slave labour force. Think a little how this will all work out before you just say make them all work

      November 6, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  14. hold the mustard

    The military-industrial complex is an institution that will violently oppose a war-no-more government. This is the word of God.

    November 22, 2011 at 8:45 am | Reply
  15. hold the mustard

    Let them hold a bake sale if they need money. It works for the schools in this "great nation"

    PS- who is about to invade us? thank you.

    November 22, 2011 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • crusader12

      You didn't hear? Saddam was building an "armageddon" sized navy with millions of elite units waiting to scour our lands, rape our women and murder the children...oh wait...that was our government....sorry😀

      November 22, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  16. hamsta

    hey pat u must be an idiot.first of all just cuz ur wife works for the goverment doesnt mean shes entitled to a raise.thats why this economy is so screwed up.bloated government.my job hasnt given a raise in over 30 yrs even though weve increased production 5 fold in the past 10 yrs.but u are right about 1 thing we need to make some cuts.get rid of all the useless government workers.

    November 22, 2011 at 7:13 am | Reply
  17. mac daddy

    Liberals are socialist cowards

    November 22, 2011 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • hold the mustard

      mac daddy is fat

      November 22, 2011 at 8:37 am | Reply
    • lkite

      This liberal served as both an NCO and Officer in the US Army. Graduated Ranger school, jumpmaster. ........... Your intellectually challenges comment is nothing more than laughable. I believe there is an age requirement for positing on this site. After you have completed middle school you may be mature enough to post comments worthy debate.

      November 24, 2011 at 3:20 am | Reply
  18. The Constitution

    Unfortunately, some are so desperate to keep this man out of the White House that they continue to promote distortions.

    Ron Paul has more donations from military personnel for a reason. Ronald Reagan has said that we need Paul to keep fighting for our country.

    The US and Israel have enough nukes and military power to destroy the planet 800 times. We have 900 bases around the globe. We start wars with people that are not a direct threat, and without congressional approval. Israel is widely known to have an arsenal of nukes, yet they do not allow IAEA inspections or UN reports. Who is the bigger threat and aggressor? Grow up.

    Terrorists are ill with the mentality that their world is dominated by greed and excess from greater powers. So are most Americans.

    While I do not suggest this man walks on water,
    Elect Ron Paul in 2012 because he is the true anti-isolationist
    Economies and friendships will boom.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:46 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      oh shut up you conspiracy theory nutjob... this is getting so old... Israel has nukes... and? has it used them? have they ever threatened to use their nuclear arsenal to resolve any of their conflicts? I don't want to hear it. Isreal can't Nuke it's neighbors without feeling the reprisal of the entire world... and a nuke on it's neighbors would kill them off just as well... the Middle East isn't big enough to use a nuke on one side of it and avoid the effects of that bomb... it would be detrimental to their own people... you're just yet another idiot that thinks way too much of the use of Nukes, they will not be used by any Nation again.

      November 22, 2011 at 10:23 am | Reply
  19. VRage13

    Wise up people. The SecDef and the military are here to worry about and train to defend against the "worst case scenario". That is the way we work to keep you safe. If you leave a hollow force, the SecDef is correct, we are setting yourselves up to be attacked by smaller forces and defeated.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:02 am | Reply
    • hold the mustard

      wrong. you're just paranoid. Lay off the cocaine.

      November 22, 2011 at 8:37 am | Reply
    • the worst case scenario

      Always preparing for the worst case scenario is not realistic and has limitless expense. There are an infinite number of worse case scenarios. Four worst case scenarios I can think of within 4 seconds would be : 1. powerful aliens find earth and take over the U.S. 2. the book of Revelations plays out 3. Global warming leads to global flooding 4. We have all been living in a dream within a dream and this is not even reality.
      Maybe the military should plan for the most likely scenarios instead. One of these likely scenarios would be a budget crisis (in part due to military spending) that wrecks the U.S.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  20. NoTags

    Let's see, we only have enough nukes to destroy the world about 20 times. If the defense budget doesn't get cut then we can build up the arsenal to destroy the world 25 times. My concern is; after the 1st time, who will be around to push the button the other 24 times.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:41 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      No tags – that's about the dumbest argument i've ever heard, you and the other moron who posted about nukes above have no idea what you're talking about. Basically you're implying that no matter what we could basically drop our military because we have nukes.... SERIOUSLY!? so you're saying it's better if the only military option available is to obliterate the world... The U.S. has realized since it dropped the atomic bombs in WW2 that the use of nukes to resolve a conflict cannot be the answer, you cannot fight wars this way... This would be like saying, if you're arguing with somebody in your neighborhood, the only resolution is to talk it out with them or get a gun and blow their head off... that's not how you resolve conflicts... why on Earth would you imply that is a smart way for the US to handle it's relations with it's neighbors... the US armed forces are needed because only soldiers on the ground can actually resolve conflicts with regimes without destroying the people of a nation or the population of Earth for that matter... such a dumb assertion... you people think like 5 year olds.

      November 22, 2011 at 10:18 am | Reply
    • lkite

      Hollow force. We currently have eleven aircraft carriers and ten assault carriers. That is double the carriers held by the rest of the world. We also have three more on the way. These budget cuts will not even reduce defense spending it only slows it. Get a clue we are going to starve our country to feed our military.

      November 24, 2011 at 3:25 am | Reply
  21. thinkthankthunk78

    Scenario-countries ran by business and lawyers for the prosperity of business and law. Might be western culture. Then, think of an older gentleman who is more religiously and ethically minded. He acts on what he has been taught and raised to be right. Next, think of your neighborhood bully. Power is absolute and absolute power as they say, "is absolute." No one can say these do not intermingle for any individual culture or country, but the reality is these are how our socities today are based. Take it with a grain of salt or at first hand account. There are people or groups who would rather you be on bottom and themselves on top. Are you competitive? A dictator or regimeist is certainly more so. War is an economy or financial booster period. However, this does not mean investment is uncalled for. Because, surely as you take stock in what you take pride in. So does your enemy take stock in what you value.
    You, the American people have a brave and defiant volunteer Force ready to serve YOU! Support THEM, support yourselves, and decline support for those that would misrepresent their agenda.
    Only a truly desperate man or a truly combat savy soldier would understand what it means to be free. Love her, defend her, and keep her safe. She is your home, your way of life, and rite by honor of those that have laid down their all.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:36 am | Reply
    • ram

      That's what the people of Iran, China, India, Syria, Russia, Libya etc are all thinking. They dont have to be too concerned if the us and its allies stay at home and debate on how to spend the last yuan.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:43 am | Reply
  22. USAmerican

    Hey, when it comes time to pay taxes, cut what you owe by 15%. If (all)taxpayers play ball with this idea, the government will have to cut spending because we won't give them as much to begin with. Hey, I'm just doing my part to "cut spending." We Americans ultimately control the purse strings,b not those Chumps in D.C.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
    • MarkThompson

      Or they will borrow in the meantime, till they arrest you for tax evasion. Good theory though...

      November 22, 2011 at 2:20 am | Reply
  23. DJohns

    If you add up all the world's military budgets, the US represents almost one half of the total. This is a ridiculous amount of money to waste defending ourselves from imaginary enemies. Even if we cut our military spending by 50%, we'll still be spending more than twice as much as the Chinese.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:56 am | Reply
    • Mike Speakman

      Imaginary enemies? So I take you're a volunteer for the next terrorist attack. We're in a long drawn out war with Islam, one in which Iraq and Afghanistan are just mere battles. A war that has been going on since Mohammed started Islam.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
      • JWM

        At war with islam???????? So we are back to the crusades.... "The Christians will save the Holy Land!" As a Christian I personally take offense to the idea that America is waging a war against Islam. I am a fiscal conservative and support cutting the budget properly but saying that we are in a religious war is simply stating how much of an extremist you are.

        November 22, 2011 at 10:34 am |
      • semper fi

        @JWM
        a fiscal conservative? Nay! You're the extremist! religion is half the worlds problem right now. All you religous plp running around doing "god's will." At the end of the day i would like nothing more then for us all to get along, however, its you religious extemists that can't let others disagree with you. So, till we move beyond that, I'm content to continue our fight against the religious radicals who want to come here and force me to pray to their god. Wake up, what exactly did we do that warrented flying planes into buildings and killing over 3000 plp.

        November 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Nelba

      Soemm say the US spends 6 times as much as China on its miltary. Why? Here is one answer: Americans are paid up to ten times their Chinese counterparts. American machinists, engineers, accountants, welders, electricians, assembly line workers, program managers, and a multitude of others are all paid much more than those in China. Every plane, ship, or other equipment has to be defined, designed, detail parts manufactured, subassemblies produced, major assembly achieved, electronic and hydraulics subsystems acquired, integrated and tested. When all these systems have been delivered, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and multitudes of support staff have to operate, maintain, support, and train in them. At best, they are never used in actual combat. All these American military personnel are also paid much more than their Chinese counterparts. Do Chinese soldiers get thousands of dollars of scholarships when they leave service, as do Americans? Funds that are included in the DOD budgets but end up being received by colleges. I am NOT saying that current DOD budgets levels should be maintained. I too believe sensible and significant reductions can be achieved. However, misleading & simplistic statements like "the US spend 6 times as much as China on its miltary" have to be understood.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:12 am | Reply
    • ram

      and the chinese saved 3 trillion dollars in foreign exchange in the last 7 years while the us was playing powerful and waging war on sovereign nations and accumulated costs of over 1.3 trillion dollars just to show who the bully is.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:47 am | Reply
  24. Mike Speakman

    Cutting back on government spending is as easy as legalizing all drugs, Doing this allows you to do away with the DEA and all extra law enforcement needed to police the drug issue. Fully recognize the right to bare arms and the right of freedom of choice and do away with the ATF. Not only do you have a reduction in manpower costs, but you have a steady revenue stream of sales tax and license fees coming in. We are supposed to be a free nation, every law that restricts freedom costs money to police it, we can't afford to restrict our freedoms any longer.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:44 am | Reply
  25. absolute

    Think domestic. Walk and look around yourselves. The war is here! Now. Its not about waking up or all this "I'm an American, freedom bull!". They're already inside. WWIV is gonna be fought with sticks and stones. WWIII is gonna be us.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:39 am | Reply
  26. clr

    Obama has always wanted to deplete our military – he hates them. The only benefit is that he will simply not be in office much longer to veto squat.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:37 am | Reply
    • Bun

      Really? I suggest that you take a look at his approval rating. Plus the GOP just does not have a strong enough candidate to beat him. Then, think about it, the romance with Obama and "Yes we can" is not over yet.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:56 am | Reply
      • White Dude , Bay Area, Ca

        Any GOP candidate Could beat Obama. Most certainly If it were held today. The exception of one unfortunately.

        This isnt right-wing rhetoric. The fact of the matter is the economy . The president just dumped an opportunity for many new jobs. Many labor jobs!! Building that pipeline from Canada. The vast majority of Americans want that pipeline built. Those in the minority of the green "fad" [which the pres sided with this time] are against. The same goes for drilling offshore. That's another story.
        The president's foreign policy is well-thought I have to say. He deserves a lot of credit. Libya, Syria and Iran[thus far]
        Most conservatives would agree .lobbying Israeli hawks might not.
        But, foreign policy won't be on people's minds next novermber. It will be the state of the economy and unemployment

        November 22, 2011 at 4:04 am |
    • VRage13

      You are absolutely correct. While he in public proclaims his love for the military but behind the scenes when the cameras aren't rolling, he does everything he can to deplete the military.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:50 am | Reply
    • hold the mustard

      Aren't you going to have a hissy fit when he gets re-elected next year because your party has the weakest bunch of incompetent candidates in history. AHahhahahahahahahahahahhahaa

      November 22, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
  27. SGT J

    these doomsday generals are ridiculous. What we should be doing anyway is cutting defense spending. We need to cut programs that are costing us billions in R&D that will never see the light of day anyway. This is exactly what this country needs.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:26 am | Reply
  28. shae

    Sigh this is ridiculous. Have the stuck up, sefish and iggnorant american people forgott
    on what happened on 9/11? If a bunch of extremist desert hill billys have the bravery to attack us, who's to say a military force like the chinese, russia, iran, north korea, pakistan and any other country we have beef with won't attack us? A budget cut that major would leave us more vunerable then ever. And also, it would cause thousands of troops to lose their job and come home to nothing. Is that how we want to show our gratitude? Taking away our neighbors job and saying fuck off we need the money? Talk about ignorance. He is right. Any force would seize the opportunity where the worlds strongest nation is weak. I hope some of you can agree. Peace bros

    November 22, 2011 at 1:25 am | Reply
    • pat

      Cut baby Cut. I won't be shedding any tears for our bloated defense budget. My wife works for the government and hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. We can't afford to be playing soldier all over the world

      November 22, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply
    • MarkThompson

      There are no cuts. They're just not getting as big of an increase in funding as they want. Even with the "cuts" we will spend more on defense next year than this year and the pattern will continue. Wish someone in the media would pick up on this, help us see through all this BS rhetoric from both sides.

      November 22, 2011 at 2:14 am | Reply
    • VRage13

      Pat...hope you feel the same if we get invaded following the hollowing out of our forces. Say some nice dirty bombs at major cities around the country or some bioweapons in the subways.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:55 am | Reply
    • hold the mustard

      CUT CUT CUT CUT

      BEAT THY SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES.... RIGHT ALL YOU FUNDAMENTALISTS?

      November 22, 2011 at 8:40 am | Reply
  29. Joe

    Bye bye Israel.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  30. dudley0418

    Americans want action when they want it. They don't want to plan for it. We are a reactionary people. If someone attacks in any capacity, the American people will demand a reaction. Whether or not we are able to provide an appropriate reaction depends upon funding during peaceful times. This has been proven over time in history.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  31. burnz

    Isn't the military part of the government? and therefore part of the "Big Government Problem?" Seems to me you could bring the tropps home and use them to replace some of the idiots who sent them away inthe first place.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • clr

      The military is actually one of the few parts of Govt that is called for under the Constitution... I agree though that it would be good for them to replace the worthless people in Washington.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:27 am | Reply
    • clr

      On the bright side – this bodes very well for the "blackwaters" of the world (which Obama's Administration is paying far more than Bush's right now).

      November 22, 2011 at 1:38 am | Reply
  32. Bill in Florida

    Sorry Leon, but we can substantially reduce our military without compromising our security. Take aircraft carriers, for instance. There are 21 currently in service in the world. The US has 11 - more than the rest of the world combined. Furthermore, close allies like Britain, France, and Italy own 4 more between them. Russia has only one and China currently has none (but is building two). The US could easily drop 3-4 carriers over the next 10 years - effectively saving 2 trillion dollars - without affecting our Navy (other than no longer owning a majority of the world's carriers).

    November 22, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
    • clr

      um.... we have a much greater span of ocean border than the other countries you mentioned. Aircraft carriers allow the military to deploy units away from the shores in our defense in the most economical means possible (the other being to permanently locate the resources – which requires the acquisition of further bases (or countries). They also deploy in peace keeping missions such as shore line disaster recovery missions (hurricanes, typhoons, etc) as they house fully equipped medical facilities, transport, temporary quarters, etc. Removing the carriers would actually increase cost, not decrease them.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:32 am | Reply
      • hold the mustard

        Who are you so afraid of? Who is going to attack? Weak -azz korea? Russia (BUWHAHAHAHHA) How about china... lets kill our biggest customer... right. Maybe Iran, with their ONE nuclear sub. Wait I know, its Venezuela, teamed up with Pakistan. We're done for.

        You paranoid military freaks are ruining this country.

        November 22, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  33. Bob

    The American people and its military leaders are more than a little paranoid. Yes, there are threats out there – from groups like Al Qaeda. But, what is the purpose of our huge military presence around the World? Are China or Russia going to attack anytime soon, no. And if they do we have nuclear deterent. Cut the defense budget in half, and we will still be more than safe.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:50 am | Reply
    • Leopold

      China will not attack us directly by military means. But if we weaken militarily it probably by various means will take over Taiwan and other smaller countries in Southeast Asia, greatly reducing our sphere of influence and the freedoms those countries currently enjoy. If China becomes stronger than us economically and militarily things will get painful....we will experience a slow demise. Chinese businessmen will buy up and overrun the United States, Hawaii, etc., and control everything. And effectively we will have much less freedom and become second class citizens in our own country.....we may eventually simply become an economic hinterland, in which the decisions are made in Bejing, not in Washington. Eventually our military will become meaningless.....it will be a step-by-step process, much as in the decline of Rome. Rome never actually fell, it just crumbled away.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:12 am | Reply
      • JimmySD

        WOW!

        That's quite a nutty theory. Did you come up with that all by yourself?

        I want to try some of the hallucinogens that you're on.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:44 am |
      • ram

        and what's so wrong about that?

        November 22, 2011 at 3:56 am |
      • PhooBar

        Actually Jimmy, Leo's statement is supported by history, and the documented trend of China's long-term goals.

        You, on the other hand, are apparently between 16 and 20 years old, and therefore innocent of any education, experience or common sense.

        November 22, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • clr

      It is called being a deterrent... And for what it is worth – both China and Russia have much larger military forces than we do. China is buying up the Pacific, which will then put the US at threat if we pull back – as much economically as well as from a security standpoint. OPEC can withhold fuel if they want – the size of our military force is part of what they respect, which is important since our own Administration won't let us drill, and therefore makes us dependent on OPEC. And Argentina has become and aggressive foe to the south, opening their borders to both Iran and Russia to place operatives at our southern border.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:36 am | Reply
      • JimmySD

        Maybe if Koch, Exxon, BP, Peabody, Massey and their ilk didn't have a propaganda campaign that bashes energy efficiency and renew-ables we would be less dependent on OPEC.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  34. heres an idea

    Using Newt Gingrich's idea against him

    Lets send all our politicians out to fight the wars they created and send our soldiers home. Then we will see how many times we get into war.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:32 am | Reply
    • lol

      Our politicians could learn a good lesson in morality by being drafted into the military. They would now be responsible for the wars they start, and could no longer hide in ivory towers sending the working poor out to die in wars that only benefit the banksters and weapons dealers.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:36 am | Reply
  35. lol pudding cup

    Yeah and this is why i play mw3.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:25 am | Reply
  36. Occupy My Love

    The DOD is doing all kinds of military and non-military research. It is the Worlds biggest Employer. If you have a good-paying meaningful job, you don't think about revolution. Then it spends money and muscle to keep the rest of the countries in the world in line.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:07 am | Reply
    • Fozzyspeak

      You hit the nail on the head. People who are doing meaningful work dont think about revolution. Seems some people have forgotten about that.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:22 am | Reply
  37. Just one question

    Why do I see people spell America with a "K" and not a "C"? (Amerika) Please,I really want to know the brilliance behind the deliberate typo.

    November 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Reply
  38. mbaDad

    Military spending was 400b when bush took over, it is now 700b or 800b including the TSA. Cutting it in half would take it back to where it was, the best military in the world by far. Oh ya, I'm registered republican.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Reply
    • Matthew Kilburn

      ...it would take us back to where we were pre-9/11, when we suddenly learned a very painful lesson about how unready we were to mobilize.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Reply
      • Michael Wong

        You had more than enough resources to mobilize after 9/11. The problem was that you learned the wrong lesson. You SHOULD have learned a lesson that you can't antagonize far-off people with no consequences forever.

        November 22, 2011 at 12:30 am |
      • Bill in Florida

        The 9/11 attacks had nothing to do with an insufficient military. They had everything to do with an insufficient intelligencia, beginning in the White House and going on down the line.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:24 am |
      • dudley0418

        Michael, you are saying that the answer to peace is being sweet to everyone. If you're a nice person, people walk all over you. Why? Because they can.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  39. Matthew Kilburn

    If we didn't "act like we owned the world", another country would. None of the top contenders are friendly to our views, our interests, or our values.

    Sometimes less than optimal (US as world police) is still preferable to the alternative (China in the same roll)

    November 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Reply
    • Michael Wong

      What makes you think China is interested in global domination? Their military is geared toward defense, not long-range power projection like America's military. What's wrong with living in a multi-lateral world?

      Other countries get along just fine without the ability to bully other countries into doing their will. Maybe it's time America learned how to function like that.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:31 am | Reply
      • HUNU

        China stubbornly claimed their sovereignty over vast of the pacific ship lane because the US has been busy with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. China had been very aggressive toward Vietnam for thousand years and the Vietnamese have to control its aggressiveness by using both force and particularly her cultural superiority to keep her land up to today. Aggressiveness and greedy are always in China’s blood.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • ram

      China does not conquer countries for their resources. China negotiates deals and contracts and that is what they had been doing for the past 7 years while the us was waging wars. China now has more raw material resources lined up for the future, more than you know who.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:04 am | Reply
  40. Matthew Kilburn

    America has an aging military – most of carrier fleet is decades old. Ditto for our planes. And this isn't WWII, where we can turn out thousands of plans on a couple months of notice...it takes YEARS, if not DECADES to design and produce an effective military weapon today. China is rapidly militarizing – they've now got a "Carrier killer" missle, their own actual aircraft carrier (three more on way), a new stealth mixed-use jet, and an army considerably larger than our own.

    Russia is also rebuilding its military, primarily its airforce, just not as fast as China.

    I'm not going to say our military is too large, or too small, or just right – I'm going to say that our military needs to be large enough to face whatever threat might come its way, and looking ahead, that means china and Russia. We're fools if we're basing our projections on anything else.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Reply
    • ram

      The Iranians have the same thoughts.

      November 22, 2011 at 4:06 am | Reply
    • Dan the Man

      Your a fool if you think were going to ever take on the Chinese/Russians conventionally! If we ever get into it, full blown it will be a case of pass the codes to Mr. President!!!

      November 22, 2011 at 7:58 am | Reply
  41. Steve

    Panetta is protecting his turf. But the facts are the Pentagon has in recent past admitted to not being able to account for 100's of billions. Depending on whose account, we pay 40 to over 50% of the worlds military budget even though we are just a small percentage of the world population. If they can't find efficiency, then we need to find people who can.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  42. xpxpxp

    As long as the US Navy is still around the country won't get attacked. Get rid of most the army, no need for that large of a standing force. Enlarge the national guard and reserves. Infantry, tanks, helicopters are outdated. Keep the small elite units and allow them to operate. Countries don't worry about the US Army or Marines. They worry about a US Carrier and its carrier group parked outside a country.

    The US hasn't been threatened by a military force since WW2. As long as they have the most powerful Navy the rest of the military doesn't make much of a difference.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  43. 4148

    if we did not mess with so many countries sending troops to every country like we own the world maybe we would not have so many people who hate us. elect perry and he will start another war in latin america, elect obama and he will start war with iran. ron paul want to take us out of this mess who would you elect? lets focus on our defense not our conquest.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  44. April Garlow

    The whole episode is a joke–it makes no difference–2 trillion in cuts starting in 2013–we will have added more than that to the Federal deficit by 2013. No cuts–no serious attempt to save the American economy–the spending needed to stop tomorrow–and the cuts needed to be real –long term and serious for any real effect. The whole Super Congress bologna was just a way for the people we voted into office to dodge their responsibility–politicians –ignorant of what their true job title means.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  45. FUNR

    "Panetta is a gross political hack."- That is pretty much it in a nutshell, and does not reflect well on Obama for appointing that joke. You would think there would be some kind of ethics violation to be prosecuted against Panetta for abusing his position to stir up a lot of hysteria over claims he knows, or should know, are patently false.
    "Less money is always good shock therapy for over-stuffed bureaucrats," – LOL_ he got that right. The time to dismantle this major fraud against America is long overdue- long long long overdue.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  46. Terry P

    Like anyone is going to attack us with the number o Nukes we have. Give me a break.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Reply
    • Shawn Roach

      Dont be so confident I am a soldier in the US army and we talk about how ill equiped our army really is. Nukes are powerful yes but there is nothing to gain after pure destruction. China is about 15 years behind us in terms of military technology but they have the numbers to seriously cause some dammage and successfully land on the coast. Russia is almost equal in technology and would also prove a major challenge.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Reply
      • Sean Lee

        What is China going to do? Pull off a Normandy-style evasion from across the Pacific Ocean? Give me a break, this isn't Modern Warfare 2

        November 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
      • Bob

        You have got to be kidding. Like the other posted response here, what do you think China is going to do, launch a ground invasion of the United States? China does not have the troop lift capacity (planes and ships) to begin with. It is paranoid thinking like this that runs-up the needless defense tab.

        Cut the defense in half and we would still have the largest military budget in the World.

        November 22, 2011 at 12:43 am |
      • Dan the Man

        The just shows why we have civilians in charge of the military, not pure rocket scientists like you! Whats hot at the mess-hall today anyway?

        November 22, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  47. Maltese Falcon

    Get rid of Leo Panetta. He's a paranoid nutcase who doesn't know what he's doing.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • jms

      yeah you should apply

      November 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Reply
      • FUNR

        If Panetta is the best we can come up, then abolish the position.

        November 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Maltese Falcon

      No, thanks. Don't want to be war criminal.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  48. T40G

    Panetta sure has his panties in a bunch – doesn't he? Empty threats – not even half full. We're a big country, and can take care of ourselves – without the fear mongering – please!

    November 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  49. T40G

    Panetta sure has his panties in a bunch, doesn't he? Empty – not even half full.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  50. pete/ark

    gee whiz mr. roosevelt we don't need a big military...germany&japan won't bother us...

    November 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Reply
    • jms

      really, why even have a military right?😉

      November 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Reply
    • FUNR

      Like Germany and Japan were oblivious to our massive industrial capacity and potential reaction times? Take note that every bit of that industrial capability was developed to meet peacetime market economy demands and not the military. The war just made them scale it up. The military historically is not real good at stimulating the development of that kind infrastructure. Why? So much corruption and waste, people get out the business.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      They will now, what with all the interfering you've done over there.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:03 am | Reply
  51. Maltese Falcon

    Who cares. Get the warmonger types out of there and start producing products.
    Amerika should not be ruling the rest of the world. The money is just not there for that.
    Also privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
    • jms

      TVA...get off your soap box, wanna throw any other of your rants in the pot?

      November 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      That's right, the Tenn. Valley Authority. There is an easy trillion dollars. Who needs it, anyway.
      And that way you are giving up on Kommunism.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
    • Shawn Roach

      Anyone who has been to war would spend the money on defense just for show of force so they dont have to fight another battle.

      PFC Roach US army
      it isnt war monguring

      November 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Reply
      • Maltese Falcon

        Sounds like a big non-mongering bankruptcy from all your excessive war spending.
        You're afraid they're gonna come over here and get you for what you did over there. Grow up.

        November 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
      • BD

        Private, you should probably quit throwing your name and rank around. You simply shouldn't get into any kind of political discussions with your rank. It can be taken as the opinion of the entire Army.
        Also, it would be trivial for say, a senior NCO or officer to find you on facebook, AKO, etc.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  52. rafael

    This country spends way too much money on the military. Let's fix our economy first, so that we can afford to fund the military. I'm not against the military. They are the best in the world, but let's fix america first !!!

    November 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Reply
    • Ryan

      Do you have any idea how much money the Military generates? Although it was looked at as a bad thing, the Industrial Military Complex creates a lot of jobs and every town with a base/fort/camp becomes much stronger economically.

      If you want to fix anything stop handing out free money to people that doesn’t have to work for it. I think anyone receiving free money from the gov should be required to volunteer 40-50 hours a week at a food banks or any other worthwhile cause.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Reply
      • US Citizen

        Or maybe learning grammar?

        November 22, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  53. nytw

    It doesn't matter. Our elected "leaders" hate America and Americans so much they are willing to let America fail.

    November 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  54. KeithTexas

    Empty Threat – If we cut the Military budget by 75% we would still have the largest military in the world. That should be big enough to fulfill their Constitutional requirements. And it might keep them home instead of committing Adventurism all over the world.

    November 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Reply
    • jms

      wow, you dont know much about this issue do you – given such a false comment, looking at numbers, N. Korea and China have the largest militaries, looking at money its possible the US does, and if they cut 75% that includes 75 percent of people, so when you mean bring them home, yes they will go straight home, to no jobs and lots of problems coping after a hard war then left out to dry with little upward movement for those left due to so many cuts

      November 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Reply
      • ram

        ...and how many people do you think were displaced in Iraq and Afghanistan...and how many lost their supply of water, fuel, electricity for years..and jobs for years. Why cant your returning soldiers experience the same thing that they put the above-mentioned people through.

        November 22, 2011 at 4:15 am |
      • hold the mustard

        Great, then they can join the rest of the country with no jobs. You can't keep an excessive force when it doesn't make sense economically. Period. Suck it up and go get a real job as a security guard or pepper spraying protestors. I heard texas has a ton of minimum wage jobs and they love rednecks

        November 22, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  55. The great mcnally

    Everyone needs to stop take a deep breathe and pull there heads outta their asses ( this means all humanity ). How is it that some old rich guy pisses off some other old rich guy and young people that dont know eachother start killing eachother. Meanwhile old rich guy is still rich has all his limbs and is still alive. That doesnt make any sense all PEOPLE stop listening to other people alltogether, no-one neads to be led they simply need to mind their own damn buisiness and everyone will be cool. As for those that don't old west local mob mentality would fix it local problem local mob locally hung. Anyway f*ck these old people sending anyone to there deaths and moneys just paper that you love its just paper incentive to make you someone elses bitch. Im out. F*ck all poloticians.

    November 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • jms

      are you so naive thats what you actually think causes or starts wars? resources are a major factor just for example, but its more complex then your ignorant rambling

      November 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • pete/ark

      can't make your point w/o profanity ?

      November 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  56. hamsta

    hey peter u must be an idiot.iran has nukes and submarines.

    November 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Reply
    • jms

      agreed

      November 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  57. brenden moke

    this is all over said. as i did the maththat is only takeing 40 billion dollars out of 700 billion hmm thats not that bad

    November 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  58. Peter

    Who do we need this massive military to defend ourselves against? last I heard Al-Qaida didn't have submarines and aircraft carriers or large standing armies? seems all this stuff is pretty ineffective against them if we need to keep this ridiculas build up of military force. And before you think China just ask yourself when you think they might start bombing US Walmarts. Wake up people!

    November 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Reply
    • jms

      youre right, but china and others do, and our size is a deterent in and of itself, we cant just prepare for one type of asymetrical war and discount all the other threats

      November 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  59. m

    Military spending is out of control. It is incredulous to believe out of a total budget of $881 billion some reductions will cripple the defense of America.

    Panetta has no choice but to fight every cut down to the last penny, but he knows cuts are inevitable given the current financial situation. It is not particularly helpful screaming Chicken Little and arguing cuts will invite war. We've been fighting wars for years and throughout the budget has only gone up.

    November 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • jms

      prices go up, its basic economics

      November 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Reply
    • hold the mustard

      Panetta is a douche

      November 22, 2011 at 8:48 am | Reply
  60. tamara reina

    This article says nothing to the reader

    November 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • jms

      did you read it?

      November 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  61. Occupy My Love

    The Dept. of Defense is the worlds largest employer. They pacify the world through economic means.

    November 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Reply

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