Obama unveils new strategy for 'leaner' US military
January 5, 2012 1:30 PM   Subscribe

"As I made clear in Australia, we'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region," President Obama and Sustaining US Global Leadership (pdf)

Mirror to the pdf file is here: Sustaining US Global Leadership - Priorities to 21st Century Defense. It is well worth a read; 16 pages of well-written information, and includes letters from President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta which are helpful if the rest of the document is tl;dr.



Comment and analysis from the BBC: "It shifts the Pentagon away from its long-standing doctrine of being able to wage two wars simultaneously".
but it isa new strategy for these cash-strapped times.

(View the US's military might compared with that of other global powers in 2011).


Chicago Tribune: "Under his plan, Obama said, the U.S. will still have a defense budget larger than those of the next 10 countries combined."


New York Times: Mr. Obama also said that the United States would “avoid repeating the mistakes of the past when our military was left ill-prepared for the future.”



Bonus: How would you create a leaner military?
posted by Petrot (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now sounds like the perfect time for another terrorist attack against the United States. One more overreaction like 9/11 could literally destroy the country.

Not that I want that, but seems like an obvious action.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There used to be a whole industry of people who would read similar pronouncements coming out of the Soviet Union trying to suss out what the actual policies were and the internal political battles of the Soviet elite that they portended.

e.g. "deterring and defeating aggression by adversaries, including those seeking to deny our power projection"

So, preparing to defeat an attack by the US is grounds for an attack by the US?

I imagine there are people all over the world whose job it is to figure out what this means practically. But, I think sooner, much sooner, rather than later this will be an obsolete job skill.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now sounds like the perfect time for another terrorist attack against the United States. One more overreaction like 9/11 could literally destroy the country.

Not that I want that, but seems like an obvious action.


October surprise.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2012


Who was talking about "the end of the American Empire"? It looks like Empire is all we have left.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:50 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama said, the U.S. will still have a defense budget larger than those of the next 10 countries combined."

It's often hard to visualize that, but this helps -- the U.S. Navy has nearly twice as many aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:57 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama said, the U.S. will still have a defense budget larger than those of the next 10 countries combined."

I really wish more people truly understood the scale of this. I swear, too many people speak and act like they believe the US military is barely a couple of boats and a handful of humvees, and will be soundly smashed by Botswana unless the Pentagon gets as much money as we can print.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe the numbers are really dramatic -- but haven't policy-makers and analysts been promising a "leaner" military for twenty years? Rumsfeld of course made a lean military force his big policy before (and during!?) the invasion of Iraq.

What's the deal?
posted by grobstein at 2:06 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


haven't policy-makers and analysts been promising a "leaner" military for twenty years?

Absolutely. Indeed, this was Rumsfeld's mandate prior to 9/11, and even afterward, for example, he killed a multi-billion dollar artillery program, in favor of greater reliance on bombers using precision munitions. When he was SecDef, Cheney had the same marching orders -- "Cheney's 1993 defense budget was reduced from 1992, omitting programs that Congress had directed the Department of Defense to buy weapons that it did not want, and omitting unrequested reserve forces."

But see, when Republicans lower defense budgets, it's smart thinking. When Democrats do it, it's cowardly and dangerous.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:20 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wish I could get a link to my choices to post. The whole thing can be done in two choices, cutting personnel by 35% and Pentagon civilians by 20%. However, by cutting stupid programs (I pretty much just left the Warfighter Information Network, intel, R&D and bands alone), plus removing personnel from Europe and Asia, I was able to save $824 billion.I made zero salary or benefits cuts.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's for the bonus link, by the way.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:26 PM on January 5, 2012


And for my third and final comment, it was not possible to hit the target just be cutting non-benefits programs without cutting personnel. The damned thing just needs to get smaller, period.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:27 PM on January 5, 2012


It's often hard to visualize that, but this helps -- the U.S. Navy has nearly twice as many aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined.

I didn't realise that there were so few aircraft carriers in the world.

Also, it looks like non-US countries mostly have one-off carrier designs. That seems a bit odd. Bespoke carriers? is there a thing where two countries show up at a party, and are then mortified because they are wearing the same hardware?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:51 PM on January 5, 2012


I assume this is purposefully short on details. In other words, PR experiment.
posted by anarch at 2:56 PM on January 5, 2012


Also, it looks like non-US countries mostly have one-off carrier designs.

For the smaller nations, the carriers are hand-me-downs from the big kids.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:04 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, it looks like non-US countries mostly have one-off carrier designs.

Hand me downs, as mentioned above.

Also, different missions. Big-ass nuclear carriers have enough juice to run big-ass steam-powered catapults to throw big-ass planes off the deck designed to project power and dominate the airspace and defend the fleet with big-ass missiles.

Soviet carriers, for example, simply never had that mission. Instead, the Soviet plan was to destroy a U.S. fleet with a shitload of submarines.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:33 PM on January 5, 2012


It helps to understand that the ships that we (the US) calls 'carriers,' the rest of the world calls 'supercarriers,' and the ships we call 'amphibious assault ships,' 'landing platform helicopter' and 'amphibious transport docks' are called by the rest of the world 'carriers.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


china, taiwan and japan have been aiding countries in the pacific for decades in a non-colonial manner with no presence of troops, and asking nothing in return except fair trade and the assured safety of their citizens abroad. if you need an example of the damage the u.s. military can do to a country and its culture, look to guam.
posted by kitchenrat at 5:18 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect this has a lot to do with making damn sure the Aussies don't get any ideas about deciding their current trade BFF China is a better ally over the next 20 - 50 years. Bit hard to change which superpower you cozy up to when one has troops all over the place.
posted by rodgerd at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't realise that there were so few aircraft carriers in the world.

There are even fewer than that. If, when you think of "aircraft carrier," you think of a ship that launches and recovers more or less normal aircraft, then there are 13 and a half. 11 belong to the US, one is the French Charles de Gaulle, and another is the Brazilian Sao Paolo (formerly the French Clemenceau). The half is a Russian one that doesn't have catapults, which puts serious limits on the planes that can fly off of it.

All the rest are STOVL carriers that can only take weirdo vertical-landing planes like the Harrier.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 PM on January 5, 2012


If we're talking carriers, check out new hotness.
posted by Trurl at 7:08 PM on January 5, 2012


What he said.
posted by pompomtom at 4:30 AM on January 6, 2012


The bonus link is particularly interesting, but unlike other budget tools I've seen this one is pretty easy to pull off. There is no excuse for not reducing the size of the military but I don't know what impact there may be in layoffs of people who provide those services. All the same, it is indefensible morally to over invest in the weaponry industry.
posted by dgran at 6:32 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A US Navy carrier battle group leaves the Persian gulf after ending its Iraq mission, gets threatened by Tehran against coming back, rescues 13 Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates.
posted by Anything at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2012


Four Contradictions in Obama’s New Defense Plan
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2012


Trillion-Dollar Stealth Fighter Program Delayed, But Still Tracking
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2012


This Is Lockheed Martin’s New Amazing Fighter—But Do We Really Need It?
posted by homunculus at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2012


I don't think we should actually build it, but we should design a flight sim around it for sure.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drones, Asia and Cyber War: Pentagon Shifts Priorities in New Review; Budget Still Exceeds Bush Era
posted by homunculus at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2012


Which presidential candidates have earned the defense industry’s support?
posted by homunculus at 2:04 PM on January 13, 2012


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