(By Col. D. R. “Duke” Stanton, USMC, Retired)
Is it in our best interest to diminish freedom’s protectors?
We are presently involved in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq. We have approximately 29,000 troops in South Korea while North Korea has been rattling its chains and developing a nuclear capability of its own.
Iran is also developing a nuclear capability and threatening the very existence of Israel, a country that we have said that we will protect. Our troops have been on continual rotations with some being sent to the war zones four and five times. They are tired, their families are tired, and our military equipment is being used up and in need of replacement.
So what do we have out of the administration? Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has announced the reduction of 47,000 troops from the Army and Marines and that he is canceling the contract for the new vehicles to replace the worn-out landing craft that the Marines need to travel from ship to shore under hostile conditions. He is also cutting back on the number of fighter planes for our services, and the retirement benefits for our veterans are in question.
All of this while China has just unveiled a new Stealth fighter and is growing its army, navy, and air force at an unprecedented rate.
Even our valued aircraft carriers are in the crosshairs due to building costs. The Air Force’s giant C-5 aircraft have been around for many years and are a maintenance nightmare. Other aircraft, tanks, trucks, etc. have also been around for years and are in need of replacement.
It is difficult for this Marine to understand how we, as a nation, can afford to make such deep cuts in our armed forces and our ability to project forces in areas of our national interest. In order to adjust our national economy, it appears that the long-term vision is to withdraw to our own borders and stand watch (except for our Southern border which isn’t getting a lot of help).
The problem is that we are an industrialized country that has given up much of our industry to countries outside our own borders. If we cannot project forces to protect our interest, it would appear that any nation which provides us the resources that have allowed us to flourish can cut off those resources with impunity, and we will slowly die on the vine.
Yes, we are in economic trouble, but which entity of our government throughout history has laid it on the line, body and soul, to ensure this freedom we so enjoy and the capability of our country to flourish? And which entity of government will be called upon again to ensure it remains so?
Think carefully, my leaders.