Military Personnel End-Strength

Military Personnel Strategy

Recently, I’ve been documenting — mostly from Defense News — instances in which our elected representatives are forcing more vehicles, ships and materiel on the Department of Defense (DoD) than the agency (and military branches) requested in their budget proposals. Unfortunately, I don’t see those same elected officials advocating for increased funding for personnel retention. Rather than maintain our current end-strength (the number of troops we have total), the services are sacrificing experienced combat veterans in favor of more hardware (which legislators are — as noted above — more than happy to fund in order to create and/or maintain manufacturing and other jobs in their districts).

For as long as I can remember, the American military posture was one of being able to fight and win two wars on two fronts simultaneously (think World War II). Judging from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s obvious our military can’t meet those requirements. In the middle of two wars in countries lacking conventional military forces, our military was called “broken” by some senior officials.  If we can’t manage two smaller wars, we definitely cannot manage two major conflicts.

Given the above, President Obama has since changed our military posture to the ability to fight and prevail on one front while deterring a second-front enemy. But I have my doubts we could even do that with our shrinking force levels. While engaged in heavy fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan fell by the wayside and much progress and potential was lost in defeating the enemy and leaving that country in a decent state. Again, why should we think we can achieve during two large, conventional wars against peer or near-peer enemies what we couldn’t in Iraq and Afghanistan?

What’s the obvious solution to this?

Add funding for the soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines and others who will be needed to operate, train, maintain, support and provide other functions for all the new hardware Congress wants the military to buy.

Instead of getting rid of soldiers with so much expertise on the battlefield, try to keep them in the service — don’t throw them out into an already-crowded, awful economy. If elected officials want to maintain and create jobs, give the military the money to keep soldiers instead of blowing it all on fancy new shiny objects.

[Also note that Congress is asking for all this extra money to be spent. Not the DoD or the services. Blame elected officials if you don’t like the size of the defense budget.]

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