Obama ending two-war strategy
January 4th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Obama ending two-war strategy

By Chris Lawrence

The United States should give up the capability to fight two major ground wars simultaneously, according to a Pentagon review that will be presented this week, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The review will be publicly outlined by President Barack Obama, the White House announced. The president will join Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen Martin Dempsey on Thursday at the Pentagon to discuss the military posture vision.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the strategic review presents priorities to guide the military into the future, but "they are proposals, not all of them set in stone."

The review sets forth potentially big changes in U.S. strategy, including, the official said, removing up to 4,000 troops from Europe and downsizing the overall ground forces even further. The 2012 budget request already called for cuts of 27,000 soldiers and 20,000 Marines in the next four years, and those numbers could increase.

The military would not maintain its ability to wage two large conflicts at the same time, such as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official said.

But the United States would still be able to deploy troops and equipment to "deter a second adversary" while engaged in a major ground conflict. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said the military needs to be able to respond rapidly to a crisis, even with a smaller budget constrained force.

The official said the report is not expected to call for massive cuts to weapons programs.

The review took eight months, the official said, and builds upon themes from the Quadrennial Defense Review conducted in 2010. That QDR called for greater cooperation between services, particularly the Air Force and Navy.

The official said the Pentagon will put forward a proposal to continue to allow the U.S. military "to conduct long-range strikes and protect its interests and allies around the world."

The review was conducted in light of potential limits on federal spending and the need to reduce the Pentagon's budget.

Currently, the Pentagon is committed to nearly half a trillion dollars in cuts over the next decade and could be on the hook for another half trillion dollars if Congress does not find a way around automatic cuts that enacted after the failure to reach an agreement on the federal budget.

soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. Cole Crespin

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  5. Ron Ruys

    The US has been a war based economy since WW2 and needs conflicts to balance its budget. What are you going to do with 1000,s of unemploued soldiers and then the companies that supply them with weapons and firepower. Now Iraq is finished, and Afghanastan is no big deal any more, look for places to stick your nose into next, iran, Korea, or for complete stupidity, China. who, by the way, unlike the USA, have NEVER attacked an overseas country.
    USA needs war, it's good business.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • thank you

      your smart

      January 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  6. Semperfi

    @mark redeploy locally?? Fix roads and bridges?? Aren't there enough contractors and construction companies out of work, just skimming by without flooding the industry with more competition?

    January 5, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  7. Sam

    Tske out Israel lobby, and us never have to fight more than a war. Why keep spending so much money to protect a tiny country, which itself is occupier. Let Israel deal with it's own problem. Let us save our home. God bless USA!

    January 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • HannibalTheOne

      Yes, you have a good point. The Zionist project has turned into an evil monster. If the Israelis will not stop stealing Palestinians land then we should cut the billions we give them each year.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  8. Davehuckleberry

    The Iraq war was totally made up in the small mind of a dilusional president when they should have just gone after Bin Laden and then brought everyone home. Leaving the military in Afghanistan just leaves a target for the Taliban. A target that would be much harder to hit if no allied miltary were in Afghanistan.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • KM

      You can't abandon a country that you have committed yourself to in terms of establishing security and a stable government. Walking away from our committments is a recipe for shrinking from our role on the world stage. We will cease to be the great natiuon that we have been and will become a historical, social, and economic afterthought. A nation that does not possess the capacity to defend itself in a sustained ground war will inevitably be challenged in that very arena. You cannot successfully slash the military budget to the bone and maintain a policy of "I hope nobody calls our bluff". It has never worked in the past and it won't work now.

      January 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  9. ipmutt

    How else can he affort to give out $600/ month in food stamps so the recipients can by their drugs. How else can he afford to give 50,000,000 people more unemployment so they can stay home to do their drugs. This is all part of his and the democrats plan to make America weaker and more irrelevent. So far he has been sucessful. Don't give him 4 more years

    January 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Trisna

      Jed and Jennifer Finley / Wow, my eyes got all watery lkoiong at these pics. She is precious, and her name is beautiful. It will be such a joy, like I know it is with Evan, to learn about this little person God has entrusted to you and to hear His purpose for her and raise her up to be a success in His kingdom! Kids are a joy! Suzanne, I can't believe I've never met you and hope one day we can. I know you are all an awesome family, and we congratulate you in such a happy time! And hey, when the fog lifts, we need your address! (I threw away the envelope from your Christmas card silly gal ) Love you guys!

      June 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  10. Alan

    This article is anti-climactic in its assessment. The reality is that we haven't been capable of fighting to moderate engagements (our longtime Cold War strategy) since the days of Desert Storm. While we may be the most technologically advance fighting force in the world, our actually numbers of men, planes, equipment, etc has shrunk to the lowest levels since pre-WWII. Sure, we hold a qualitative edge over our opponents (for now), but the reality is that we'd be hard pressed to win a conventional conflict against either of the other two major powers (ie Russia and China). Please don't make the mistake of confusing our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as significant conflicts, as they're not. By definition, but are low-intensity, counter-insurgency campaigns (contrast with WWI, WWII, Korea, etc). Unfortunately, our leaders are too short sighted to realized that the more the cut the less prepared we really are. This isn't a "Republican" or "Democratic" perspective, it comes from someone who is a long time member of the Armed Forces, and understands the nuances of "quality vs quantity" better than some beat reporter (or member of Congress).....

    January 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  11. Pete

    If Fox viewers would turn it off for a bit and think they would realize if we were not in a war in Iraq for no reason the military would have enough money. In addition the tax cuts that have been made for the rich and that many corporations are not paying any taxes means some hard choices have to be made. We need a strong military and a big way to achieve that is to stop wasting money. How many complainers are also posting at the same time we should attach Iran?

    January 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  12. george of the jungle

    make up your mind spending cuts or not. The repos want cuts will not raise taxes on the rich but bitch if we cut military spending. They would have us in wars all over the globe if left unchecked. Listen to the candidates they all avocate war. Should poor Americ ans and children do without? Social programs that help the mentailly handicap, the elderly are all fair game so why is the military any different. All these congressmen that are complaining how many have been in the military or sent any of their family. If we have a problem then lets send them!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • FlyingCowBoy

      Iran is not the problem.

      January 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Reply
      • KM

        This is the United States of America, it is high time we began behaving like Americans again. Our greatness is predicated on our ability to defend ourselves and our allies. Anyone who believes that this country can continue to stand as a beacon of hope to others and a bastion of political and economic power is kidding themselves. The goal of our society is to balance the needs of one group against another. Sacrificing military might will provide a scant few dollars for those in "need", but will likely cost us dearly in terms of soverignty and global competitiveness later. If liberals want money for the poor cut military spending some, but also be willing to reform entitlements. One cannot be sacrificed at the expense of the other.

        January 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • HannibalTheOne

        Exactly. If we are going to start coup de etats and change leaders of other countries, we will never run out of enemies. If we say we do not support terrorism then we must stop supporting Israel and other terror states.

        January 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  13. Coflyboy

    Wow... cool. The idea of America "only" fighting one war... it must be perplexing to those who profit from war. Now, do you think we could pull off fighting ZERO wars?

    Naw, this is America we are talking about.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • KM

      If one could only get our adversaries to agree not to attack when our military is no longer capable of adequately prosecuting a ground war, all would be well. That philosophy, however, has a very poor track record. Every time we have slashed our military budget, we have regreted the decision. I suspect this round of cuts will be no different.

      January 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  14. DavidS

    There are still 2 worrisome entities – radical, anti-Israel Islam, and Communism.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • Mike

      Stupidity, dogma, selfishness, narrow-mindedness, jingoism and arrogance are six other "worrisome entities"

      January 5, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply
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    • Erky

      I think the most worrisome thing is continuing the path of destruction this country is on
      1. Spending more money than you have.
      2. Believing you are number one, regardless of the fact that every measurable metric says otherwise.
      3. Believing your own propaganda regarding external threats.
      4. Embracing militarism, passing draconian laws to protect against the "bad guys", merging State and Corporate power – whilst pretending to be the champions of freedom, democracy and the constitution.
      5. Confusing consumer choice with "freedom"

      January 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • FlyingCowBoy

      Don't forget Israel. Their agents put pressure on Congress to get their way.

      January 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • HannibalTheOne

      One of the biggest threats to world peace is Israel and its supporters.

      January 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  15. Naive?

    We've just proven we need the capacity to fight two separate ground wars and now we want to abandon this capability? While I believe there is room for cuts in the military budget, national defense (not just in the sense of preventing invasion) is actually provided for by the Constitution; no entitlement programs (Welfare, Medicare, Medicade, etc.) are included. Cutting the military down to a shell-force will truly render it a "paper tiger" as Usama Bin Laden called us after we pulled out of Somolia in 1993. This appearance of weakness gave him the confidence to launch the high profile terror attacks of the '90s, culminating with 9-11. We must have a strong military in order to maintain our standing in the world. If we hollow the force, we will hasten our fall. Get the house in order, but not by destroying our ability to project military power globally.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • Coflyboy

      Sure we can. We'll just send you the bill.

      January 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
      • Mike

        right on!

        January 5, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • shirls

      Naive is quite selfish,uncaring about home rendered fatherless,sonless etc.you should don army fatigue and let us see how long you are going to last in the battle field

      January 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  16. keith vanzandt

    Mutabaruka, wonderfully put.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply
  17. GCa

    Once we went into the middle east, we opened a power vacuum that will eventually set the stage for some very radical groups to take over and call home. As we leave these areas, they will become breeding grounds for different dangerous ideologies that will bleed over into our territory eventually. We removed king bees that kept the nest in line and now a hornets nest is stirred up. the middle east will become a traveling wirlwind of destruction that everyone will eventually pay for. Bottom line give all cuts sometime to see how world events shape up.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • Angga

      Sherrie Rapaglia / Baby Maren is a wonderful, piourecs gift from God. We are so excited that she is here and can't wait to see her next week! She is so blessed to have wonderful parents and a big brother who will help take care of her. She is so incredibly beautiful and I can't wait to hold her and kiss her.Suzanne, you are so awesome! (And Joe's not bad either.) Ha!Love you all,Mama Rap

      June 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  18. FoolKiller

    "Obama ending two-war strategy" Then all that is left is for Obama to do away with our ability to fight ONE war at a time, and he can truely claim HIS mission is accomplished.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  19. Mutabaruka

    The need for budget cuts absolutely requires this move. Still, no sensible person could feel good about it. It kinda throws the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. Capacity to fight two ground wars is a necessity any country that wish to influence the world. Most two-front wars are not intentional; usually a country is in one war and then is attacked on a second front where it never wanted to fight. History shows that the incapacity to do so is why great powers lose wars. We shouldn't ever fight two ground wars voluntarily, as we just did. Both tactically and strategically, it is bad news. But offering our flank to prospective enemies is just as bad. Starting a two-front war in Asia was arrogant, but assuming that a two-front war could only be of our own making is equally arrogant. And equally foolish.

    It's a gravely dangerous thing to do, but we have to do it anyway.

    We have no money left. Discretionary spending, which includes defense, needs to be cut deeply – whether we cut entitlement spending or not. Although hopefully we will cut that too, since that is where most of our debt comes from.

    Bottom line, we have to cut spending everywhere. Everyone's untouchable program has to be slashed. These cuts are the inevitable result of fifty years of American profligacy.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  20. bezerkur

    bottom line is the world cant support countries that have followed our wastefull ways. China now has a infrastructure that makes ours look like a playschool set. India is growing in the same direction. the rate the world is consuming oil it wont last. to many people. we are living longer and people are just spewing kids. fishing is down and we poison our livestock with drugs to make them bigger. chemicals on our produce. they make the cure before the illness. call me paranoid all you want but everyone knows something is really wrong. whens the last time you went a day without hearing something horrible in the news or just anywhere. unless you live in a underground bunker with no outside contact you havent. good day.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • AngryJew

      What is your point?

      January 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  21. The King

    The enemies of the working class US citizens are right here in the USA, and they own the GOP. Enough of the fear mongering B.S. thats been used to justify the military industrial complex welfare program. Focus on job creation in this country, and stop playing games designed to make the rich richer.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  22. TRH

    "The official said the report is not expected to call for massive cuts to weapons programs."

    Figures. THAT is where the real savings are. Like the F-22 and F35, two planes with no mission.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:45 am | Reply
    • kfitton

      With the F-22 you are correct, there is no real air superiority missions anymore that can't be handled by current inventory. The F-35 is going to replace planes like the F-16, A-10, and others that are a mix between air and ground support. What needs to change is not that some of these are built...rather holding defense contractors accountable to fixed budgets where cost overruns are not allowed. Since Republicans are so big on the private sector, defense contracts should run the same way – deliver a product and then get paid for it...not get paid for years to delay and blow out the budget on something that should have been accomplished five years earlier and for much cheaper. That change alone would probably cut the defense budget by 10% or more.

      January 5, 2012 at 9:53 am | Reply
  23. pooh2

    It's not the size that matters. It's how we use it.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
    • Myles

      exactly, for all our size and strength we still cant win over a few thousand towel heads in Iraq in 9 years!

      January 5, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply
  24. BHPT

    The thing that's going to do us in – LONG before any of our foreign enemies – is our ongoing concentration of wealth, the gutting of our Middle Class.
    Our continued energy dependence and the massive outsourcing of our manufacturing – to potential enemies, no less – will be our undoing. I believe the comic-strip character Pogo said it best; "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

    January 5, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
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