Hagel proposes return of 'peace dividend' savings
Remember the "peace dividend"?
Military cuts at the end of the Cold War helped President Clinton preside over an expanding economy and become the last president, so far, to submit a balanced budget to Congress.
Then came the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and America's descent, following Britain and the Soviet Union, into the quagmire that is Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing a revival of the peace dividend, cutting the Army from 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers, the smallest number since 1940, when the Army had just 267,000 active-duty members.
Cutbacks are nothing new, drive a few miles northwest of McCook and visit the old Army Air Base, which closed at the end of World War II. (If only McCook would have taken over the base when it had the chance to create an expansive airport and industrial park, but that's water under the bridge ... )
Nebraska's former senator plans to cut the Air Force's A-10 tank-killer aircraft and U-2 spy plane, Army National Guard units, military bases, military pay and commissary subsidies.
Anyone with military experience, or who follows the military knows there's plenty of room for savings. Examples include continued manufacturing of tanks the Army doesn't want, as well as an extra engine for the F-35 the Pentagon says it doesn't need.
It tried to kill the Global Hawk super drone as too expensive, but now supports the aircraft, which is built in the district of the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
America does have a responsibility to active-duty military personnel and their families, as well as retirees and especially veterans with service-related disabilities.
But America's actual military requirements must take precedence over political pressures that result from cutting superfluous spending on equipment, bases and personnel.
A lean and mean military will create a true "peace dividend" that will free up money to be used in the wisest, and fairest ways.