At the top of the U.S. budget problem (and tied with Social Security), is the Department of Defense. It is one of the larger of spending programs in the federal budget, raking in over half a trillion per year.
Yet we rarely hear anything about cuts or austerity for the military from the media, who remains focused on lesser value programs.
Well, it turns out the military cuts last year may be a good indicator of things to come this year. From Wired:
About 80,000 Army soldiers and 20,000 Marines are getting downsized. Half of the Army’s conventional combat presence in Europe is packing up and ending its post-Cold War staycation. Replacing them, according to the $613 billion budget previewed by the Pentagon on Thursday: unconventional special-operations forces; new bombers; new spy tools; new missiles for subs; and a veritable Cylon army of drones.
This is the first of the Pentagon’s new, smaller “austerity” budgets: it’s asking Congress for $525 billion (plus $88.4 billion for the Afghanistan war), compared to a $553 billion request (plus $117 billion in war cash) last year. Only the Pentagon is emphasizing (.pdf) what the military is keeping, not what it’s cutting. That’s because congressional Republicans don’t like swallowing these cuts — and really don’t want to acquiesce to a currently-scheduled law that could tack on another $600 billion-plus to the already-scheduled, decade-long $487 billion in cuts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is preempting the objections, promising a force that’s “smaller and leaner, but agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced.”
That means no changes to the U.S. fleet of 11 aircraft carriers and 10 air wings, all reflecting the Obama administration’s emphasis on the western Pacific. It means leaving the nuclear triad — the bombers, subs and missiles that can end all life on earth — alone. (With one exception: the military will delay replacing the Ohio-class submarine by two years.) It means electronic weapons to jam enemy defenses and attack online networks. It means elite commando forces like the ones who just rescued two aid workers kidnapped in Somalia. And it means drones for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
If the past choices by the DoD are any indication of what’s in store for the FY2014 budget (factoring in the most recent fiscal cliff crisis). We’re going to see even further cuts to human personnel, but greater spending on drones, weaponry and technology.
We’re arming robots to the teeth, and de-emphasizing the humans who are supposed to be in charge of them, moving us one step closer to a dystopian future run by Skynet.
But rest assured, while Congress and Obama may be proposing hilariously small cuts to military spending, the average voter is far more rational.