Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Pentagon officials have argued that the incursion is the clearest sign yet that a robust budget for the US military is more than justified. But in the following op-ed, retired Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis argues that Russia’s failures on the ground suggest just the opposite, and that if anything, the budget should shrink along with America’s international military footprint. Joined.
National defense is enshrined in the US Constitution, and Congress is required to raise and maintain the armed forces, supervise them, and has the exclusive power to declare war; the president should serve as commander in chief. But it is time to recognize that the Constitution obligates American defense, not the defense of any country on the planet that wants to use Americans for its own security.
The current path could very well destroy our country: we will go bankrupt trying, or worse, we will eventually be sucked into a major war that we never should have fought, suffering appalling and unnecessary military losses, and at worst . , suffer the detonation of nuclear weapons on American cities. None of that has to happen.
The current military budget proposed by Congress is astronomically high, $813 billion. The defenders of this figure affirm that it is the minimum necessary and “critically important” to secure our national defense. Such claims, however, do not stand up to even minimal scrutiny. My own experience serving in the Army during the Cold War provides convincing evidence of the problems with such claims.
In late 1989, as a second lieutenant in the green army, I was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2ACR) in Bamberg, Germany. The 2ACR was one of three armored cavalry regiments tasked with actively patrolling the Iron Curtain dividing east from west. We are up against the front-line troops of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations, a total of 22 countries, made up of a staggering 200,000-plus tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery guns, manned by 3.5 million active troops. [PDF].
Oh, and an incomprehensibly large number of nukes. somewhere in the north of 35,000 warheads.
Against this giant adversary, the United States deployed an active-duty force of 2.1 million soldiers. To finance the national defense of the United States, with this major force deployed to the front line against this huge Soviet force, the United States Congress passed a budget of $295 billion dollars. In today’s dollars, that would be roughly $674 billion.
Consider that startling reality: In 1989, when the US was part of a NATO alliance that comprised only half the states that NATO has today, it funded more than 2 million US troops and faced an alliance 22-nation adversary manned by 3.5 million troops: We fund the DoD at a level of $139 billion less than the proposed FY2023 budget of $813 billion that will fund an active U.S. force consisting of 700,000 troops least, in an alliance of 30 member countries, against a single country with 2 million fewer troops than the Warsaw Pact alliance and having exposed its ground force as less competent than assumed.
The big takeaway from a military perspective of Russia’s war against Ukraine is how staggeringly limited Moscow’s ground forces have proven to be. In 2016 a randomized study he suggested that Russian ground forces could invade the three Baltic nations in as little as 36 hours. We now know that the Russians have proven incapable of capturing even half of a (larger) country after five full weeks of full-scale warfare. Even more critical: Russia has suffered heavy material losses, has been stripped of its most highly trained soldiers, and has expended significant portions of its precision-guided missile inventories.
By any objective measure, Russia’s conventional forces should now be seen as a lackluster regional force with very limited ability to project power beyond a few hundred kilometers beyond its border. But given the damage that Ukraine continues to suffer, it will be more than a decade before they regain their limited pre-war capability, let alone become a threat to the NATO alliance.
Yet in the face of these blatantly obvious military realities, the US European Command’s top commander wants more troops.
General Todd Wolters told a Senate panel on Tuesday that his “suspicion is that we are still going to need more” troops in Eastern Europe after the conclusion of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The number of US soldiers has jumped to more than 100,000 from an already high 60,000 just a few months ago. No one addresses the elephant in the room: Why?
Why is it necessary for US defense to send a large surge of troops to permanently occupy NATO’s eastern flank, especially after the failure of Russia’s strategy in Ukraine?
Why, in any case, should the United States, rather than other NATO members, send tens of thousands of troops to Eastern Europe?
Why is it necessary, or even desirable, for the United States to reassert itself as Europe’s first-choice defender rather than requiring rich European countries to be their own first line of defense with the United States acting as the trusted back-up?
These questions are not being asked by anyone in Washington, and they are definitely not being answered. However, these should be the first questions considered because they are critical to our national and economic security.
Attempting to continue to play that role will either bankrupt us, as these increasingly astronomical and ever-increasing defense budgets threaten to do, or drag us into major wars we should never have to fight.
We must acknowledge the painfully obvious reality, provide our national defense at the necessary levels, and allow our armed forces to meet our global treaty obligations, but stop the unsustainable and irrational drive to always and forever be the military force of choice for large portions of the world. .
Daniel L. Davis is a senior member of defense priorities and a former US Army lieutenant colonel who deployed to combat zones four times. He is the author of “The eleventh hour in 2020 America”. He is on Twitter @DanielLDavis1.