Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Obama’s Military Strategy Follows Our Predictions

• January 05, 2012 • 4:55 PM

The complete makeover of the U.S. military debuted by President Obama and the Pentagon on Thursday looks a lot like the beast our Jeff Shear has been describing in 2011.

Will the Army and Marines take a big hit once the United States wiggles out of Iraq and Afghanistan? And after exiting, will the U.S. military continue on the road away from Fulda Gap and toward Tora Bora?

These are some of the questions our Jeff Shear asked recently in pieces likes “An Army of Change” and “No Way Out: Exiting Afghanistan and Iraq,” and the dawn of 2012 provided crystal-clear answers as the Obama administration outlined the new, less-expensive look for defense, complete with sops toward soft power and development projects as well as hardware and troops.

In a Thursday announcement, the president and various military officials emphasized that the reduction in Pentagon spending over the next decade — and remember that thanks to two wars, the U.S. is spending more in absolute dollars that even before — “is not a haircut but a reshaping,” as Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter put it.

Tomorrow’s military not only will be “smaller and leaner,” explained Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, “but will be agile, flexible, ready, and technologically advanced.” In practice, that means more special forces, more gadgets, more sophisticated intelligence gathering, more reservists — and fewer ground pounders.

[class name=”dont_print_this”]

By the Way

BY THE WAY
When news breaks, this blog shows that Miller-McCune has the topic covered.

[/class]

The specifics of these proposals are promised over the coming week, but follow the observation in Shear’s story that “the likelihood of the U.S. becoming involved in another Iraq/Afghanistan conflict is considered remote and politically unacceptable. Not only will forces be cut, but their mission will be called into question.” That statement could almost have come directly from Carter’s mouth, who did say, “Iraq-like conflicts are unlikely, but we will maintain our mid-level officers in the event we need to build up our ground forces.”

Maintaining that corporate knowledge by retaining mid-career majors and colonels seems like a reasonable way to allow ground forces to scale up when global tensions suggest large ground forces would be useful again (although it would have been re-assuring to hear a similar call for NCOs like sergeants). “Wholesale divestment of the capability to conduct any mission would be unwise, based on historical and projected uses of U.S. military forces and our inability to predict the future,” explained the strategy blueprint, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” that accompanied the briefing.

Shear also said that a leaner force would rely more on the Air Force, Navy, and special forces, and that is definitely in the Pentagon’s sights. An 11-carrier Navy and a 2,500-aircraft Air Force seem safe, although the expensive new F-35 fighter program, while not being axed, is being slowed. (The brass termed it “reversibility,” the ability to maintain an industrial base without blowing through the budget.)

“Science, technology, and innovation, are seed corn of the future,” said Carter, while the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., explained, “We will invest more in our special operations forces. These are agile and flexible forces good at working with partners. As our wars draw down, we’re going to retain those forces and leverage them with other nations.”

Of course, a lot of Shear’s coverage has looked at the use of contractors – the soy extenders of the Pentagon and increasingly Foggy Bottom – as the number of uniformed troops falls. That issue was not addressed Thursday.

Interestingly, the briefing echoed another voice in Shear’s articles, that of Sen. John McCain, who over the summer lectured the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“So we have announced cuts without the strategy to go along with it?” McCain asked Dempsey. “That’s not comforting.” Dempsey’s response didn’t satisfy McCain, who continued, “In most cases I’ve seen, the strategy has been developed and then the budget is arrived at and not the other way around.”

And so President Obama, in addressing the comprehensive defense review, stressed one point above others: “the size and the structure of our military and defense budgets have to be driven by a strategy, not the other way around.”

Sign up for the free Miller-McCune.com e-newsletter.

“Like” Miller-McCune on Facebook.

Follow Miller-McCune on Twitter.

Add Miller-McCune.com news to your site.

Subscribe to Miller-McCune

Michael Todd
Most of Michael Todd's career has been spent in newspaper journalism, ranging from papers in the Marshall Islands to tiny California farming communities. Before joining the publishing arm of the Miller-McCune Center, he was managing editor of the national magazine Hispanic Business.

More From Michael Todd

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

December 18 • 2:00 PM

Women in Apocalyptic Fiction Shaving Their Armpits

Because our interest in realism apparently only goes so far.


December 18 • 12:00 PM

The Paradox of Choice, 10 Years Later

Paul Hiebert talks to psychologist Barry Schwartz about how modern trends—social media, FOMO, customer review sites—fit in with arguments he made a decade ago in his highly influential book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.


December 18 • 10:00 AM

What It’s Like to Spend a Few Hours in the Church of Scientology

Wrestling with thetans, attempting to unlock a memory bank, and a personality test seemingly aimed at people with depression. This is Scientology’s “dissemination drill” for potential new members.


December 18 • 8:00 AM

Gendering #BlackLivesMatter: A Feminist Perspective

Black men are stereotyped as violent, while black women are rendered invisible. Here’s why the gendering of black lives matters.


December 18 • 7:06 AM

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.


December 18 • 6:00 AM

The Very Weak and Complicated Links Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence

Vanderbilt University’s Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish address our anxieties and correct our assumptions.


December 18 • 4:00 AM

Should Movies Be Rated RD for Reckless Driving?

A new study finds a link between watching films featuring reckless driving and engaging in similar behavior years later.


December 17 • 4:00 PM

How to Run a Drug Dealing Network in Prison

People tend not to hear about the prison drug dealing operations that succeed. Substance.com asks a veteran of the game to explain his system.


December 17 • 2:00 PM

Gender Segregation of Toys Is on the Rise

Charting the use of “toys for boys” and “toys for girls” in American English.


December 17 • 12:41 PM

Why the College Football Playoff Is Terrible But Better Than Before

The sample size is still embarrassingly small, but at least there’s less room for the availability cascade.


December 17 • 11:06 AM

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.


December 17 • 10:37 AM

A Public Lynching in Sproul Plaza

When photographs of lynching victims showed up on a hallowed site of democracy in action, a provocation was issued—but to whom, by whom, and why?


December 17 • 8:00 AM

What Was the Job?

This was the year the job broke, the year we accepted a re-interpretation of its fundamental bargain and bought in to the push to get us to all work for ourselves rather than each other.


December 17 • 6:00 AM

White Kids Will Be Kids

Even the “good” kids—bound for college, upwardly mobile—sometimes break the law. The difference? They don’t have much to fear. A professor of race and social movements reflects on her teenage years and faces some uncomfortable realities.



December 16 • 4:00 PM

How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort

Red Cross responders say there was a ban on working with the widely praised Occupy Sandy relief group because it was seen as politically unpalatable.


December 16 • 3:30 PM

Murder! Mayhem! And That’s Just the Cartoons!

New research suggests deaths are common features of animated features aimed at children.


December 16 • 1:43 PM

In Tragedy, Empathy Still Dependent on Proximity

In spite of an increasingly connected world, in the face of adversity, a personal touch is most effective.


December 16 • 12:00 PM

The ‘New York Times’ Is Hooked on Drug du Jour Journalism

For the paper of record, addiction is always about this drug or that drug rather than the real causes.


December 16 • 10:00 AM

What Is the Point of Academic Books?

Ultimately, they’re meant to disseminate knowledge. But their narrow appeal makes them expensive to produce and harder to sell.


December 16 • 8:00 AM

Unjust and Unwell: The Racial Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Health Care

Physicians and medical students have the same problems with implicit bias as the rest of us.


December 16 • 6:00 AM

If You Get Confused Just Listen to the Music Play

Healing the brain with the Grateful Dead.


December 16 • 4:00 AM

Another Casualty of the Great Recession: Trust

Research from Britain finds people who were laid off from their jobs expressed lower levels of generalized trust.


December 15 • 4:00 PM

When Charter Schools Are Non-Profit in Name Only

Some charters pass along nearly all their money to for-profit companies hired to manage the schools. It’s an arrangement that’s raising eyebrows.


December 15 • 2:00 PM

No More Space Race

A far cry from the fierce Cold War Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, exploration in the 21st century is likely to be a much more globally collaborative project.


Follow us


Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.

The Hidden Psychology of the Home Ref

That old myth of home field bias isn’t a myth at all; it’s a statistical fact.

A Word of Caution to the Holiday Deal-Makers

Repeat customers—with higher return rates and real bargain-hunting prowess—can have negative effects on a company’s net earnings.

Crowdfunding Works for Science

Scientists just need to put forth some effort.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.