Obama's Call for Pentagon Cuts Masks Increased Spending for 'Libya-style' Wars
January 6, 2012 Anti-War.com & Aljazeera
Analysis: President Obama held a high-profile Pentagon press conference to hail his "new global military strategy" as a "realistic vision" that would cut tens of thousands of ground troops from the active combat roles. But the speech came wrapped in the same language as every other "new," "leaner" military strategy announced during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. The "new" vision actually calls for dramatic increases in spending for warplanes, with an eye toward more Libya-style wars.
Obama Reveals 'Leaner' US Defence Strategy Al Jazeera News Video
Obama Spins 'New' Global Military Strategy as Massive Change 'Leaner' Military Will Keep Costing More Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(January 05, 2012) -- President Obama held a high-profile press conference at the Pentagon briefing room today to dot the I's and cross the T's on his "new global military strategy," which officials last night called a "realistic vision" that would cut tens of thousands of ground troops from the active combat roles.
The announcement came wrapped in the same language as every other "new" strategy for military spending announced during the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations, that of moving beyond "outdated Cold War-era systems" with increases in spending on pricey warplanes and battleships.
During the talk Obama focused repeatedly on "smaller conventional ground forces," while trying to reassure that the changes wouldn't impact America's global military hegemony, giving all the indications that this is an actual cut.
Which, of course, it isn't. The "new" vision is actually an increase in spending going forward, centering on dramatic increases in spending for warplanes, with an eye toward more Libya-style wars -- President Obama even cited Libya in his speech.
The official spin remains that Libya was a runaway success with zero civilian casualties, a position that they have maintained in the face of evidence of significant numbers of civilian casualties and acting outraged at calls for investigations into those deaths. Libya, for its part, continues to drift inexorably toward another civil war, potentially even deadlier than the one the US insinuated itself into.
Obama's 'Realistic Vision':
Less Ground Troops and More Warplanes Plan Would Cut Tens of Thousands of Ground Troops AntiWar.com
(January 04, 2012) -- The Obama Administration plans on unveiling what officials are calling a "more realistic" vision of the future of the US military on Thursday, promising significant cuts in the number of available ground troops at America's disposal.
If you think that's going to be an overall cut in the size of the US military or its budget, however, you haven't been paying attention for the last several decades, as officials say the move will be coupled with an increase in spending on warplanes and warships.
Nominally, the plan is designed to move from the US being able to sustain two major occupations at any given time to one major occupation and enough forces to "block another conflict." In real terms, it means an increase in spending, as usual.
In terms of the ground troops, officials say that instead of bringing army brigades home from Afghanistan the plan is for them to "basically disappear." Even though the plan amounts to a net increase in spending going forward, it is expected to face resistance from hawks who feel it doesn't increase spending enough.
Obama Reveals 'Leaner' US Defence Strategy Al Jazeera
WASHINGTON (January 6, 2012) -- President Barack Obama has rolled out a new defence strategy to shrink the country's armed forces at a time of tight budgets, but also promised to maintain the United States as the world's dominant military power.
"Our military will be leaner but the world must know -- the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats," Obama told a news briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Emphasising the American presence in the Asia-Pacific region, where there is growing US rivalry with an increasingly
assertive China, Obama cautioned the military would remain vigilant in the Middle East.
US troops last month completed their withdrawal from Iraq, which was invaded in 2003 to topple dictator Saddam Hussein, and are winding down their presence in Afghanistan.
"We'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region," he said. "As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and the end of long-term, nation-building with large military footprints - we'll be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces," the US president said.
Reliance on Unmanned Drones Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, said: "We are going to see a shift after more than 60 years of the US being very concerned about security issues in Europe with an eye on the former Soviet Union."
"Even though the US is not going to leave NATO, it is going to be shifting much of its security posture away from Europe and more towards Asia Pacific region.
"A strategic alliance with Australia has already been announced, and that is going to be done because the US is very concerned about an emerging China, and what really China plans to do in terms of growing and expanding its military."
Alexander Huang, a professor of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University, told Al Jazeera that the new US defence strategy will definitely have an effect on Chinese-US relations.
"The new focus on Asia-Pacific is targeting China for sure," he said, "and the Chinese leaders would definitely understand that. Some sectors in Beijing may see this move as the US viewing China as an enemy, which will further complicate relations between the two."
Huang said that over the last few years China has greatly improved its capability in anti-access and aerial denial, "which is a direct challenge to the US forces in the Western Pacific."
Al Jazeera's Jordan said: "We are looking at first moving away from counter-insurgency strategy which was put in place in Iraq in 2007 and the policy is still being used in Afghanistan."
"We are also going to see much more reliance on unmanned drones used both for surveillance and for attacks because it doesn't take nearly as many people to operate drones and to carry out those sort of missions as it does to have a full scale ground force taking part in some sort of military action."
Obama, focused on boosting economic growth and curbing stubbornly high US unemployment as he fights for re-election in November, said that ending those two wars was an opportunity to rebalance national spending priorities after a decade of conflict.
Noting the defence budget had witnessed "extraordinary" growth after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Obama said that pace of spending would slow but continue to grow.
"I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong, and our nation secure, with a defence budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined," he said.
Obama has already earmarked defence budget cuts of $489 billion over 10 years. The defence budget faces an additional $600 billion in cuts after Congress failed to agree to broad deficit reduction after an August 2011 debt ceiling deal.
The president's budget proposal for 2013 will be published in early February.
"Some will no doubt say the spending reductions are too big; others will say they're too small," Obama said. "After a decade of war, and as we rebuild the sources of our strength -- at home and abroad -- it's time to restore that balance."
"The plan that was announced today is looking at what is going to be spent over next 10 years or so, and that's what people should keep in mind. This is not an overnight proposal, we are talking about a decade," Al Jazeera's Jordan said. "Those are some of the things the US military is going to shift to, if this plan is indeed approved by the Congress."
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