A potential roadblock came in passing the budget cuts suggested by Secretary Chuck Hagel when Senator Claire McCaskill joined forces with her Republican colleague Senator Roy Blunt in sending a letter to President Obama expressing worries about some of the key components of the Pentagon’s plan to cut the military. McCaskill is worried about taking Apache operations away from the National Guard as well as the effects the cuts will have on Missouri’s bases and A-10 squadrons. McCaskill is a crucial vote, given her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Looking beyond America’s post-9/11 wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed on Monday shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, closing bases and reshaping forces to confront a “more volatile, more unpredictable” world with a more nimble military.
The nation can afford a smaller military so long as it retains a technological edge and the agility to respond on short notice to crises anywhere on the globe, Hagel said. He said the priorities he outlined reflect a consensus view among America’s military leaders, but Republicans in Congress were quick to criticize some proposed changes.
In a speech at the one-year mark of his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel revealed many details of the defense spending plan that will be part of the 2015 budget that President Barack Obama will submit to Congress next week. Hagel described it as the first Pentagon budget to fully reflect the nation’s transition from 13 years of war.
At the core of his plan is the notion that after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that proved longer and more costly than foreseen, the U.S. military will no longer be sized to conduct large and protracted ground wars. It will put more emphasis on versatile, agile forces that can project power over great distances, including in Asia.