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The US Armed Forces

Is Less More, or is Bigger Better?

Learning Team C

(Nancy Anguiano, Toni Burket, Sherlen Drake, Stephen Eaton, and Martin Howard)

University of Phoenix

Business Communications 275

Jim Bingel, Instructor

Throughout all of history, civilizations have relied on the power of the strength of their militaries to overcome invasions from enemies or to expand their territories. Over time, technological advancements have allowed for the reduction of the number of people that are part of the country’s military while maintaining the power required to win battles and wars. However, technology has been a two edged sword; the more advanced a civilization became, the more personnel were needed for support and maintenance. As maintenance requirements grew, more advanced weaponry with minimal maintenance was desired. In addition to the increased need for maintenance, the costs of research, development and weapons increased, as well as the total cost of ownership, too. Today, the argument of the acceptable size of the military isn’t about people, per se, battle success or power, but one that revolves around money. The argument for a larger or smaller military has been discussed over the last 10 years or so, but never as vocally as in 2012 during the presidential election, as well as with the fiscal cliff looming. Arguments of both sides of the subject have been given as to why the size of the military should be decreased, maintained, and increased. In January of 2012, President Obama unveiled his strategy for the U.S. military. The core of the strategy is driven by reduction of the military budget (Margolis, 2012). President Obama stated, “I do not believe, and I said this before, that we have to choose between our national security and fiscal responsibility.” (Obama, 2012). Although this statement appears logical, the President has little control over world events and can’t state with certainty that minimally funded security will secure national security. Unlike conventional warfare where strategy and budgets possess well-defined parameters for planning, abstract warfare requires the ability to respond appropriately. Terrorists conduct abstract warfare; which is unpredictable. The aggressors who conduct abstract warfare must view the enemy as a viable target who doesn’t possess the ability and strength to respond. In short, if the terrorist believe their enemy is weak and incapable of retribution, they will attack. This concern was echoed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during the same press conference “That would force us to shed missions and commitments and capabilities that we believe are necessary to protect the core US national security interests. And it would result in what we think would be a demoralized and hollow force” (Panetta, 2012) (Margolis, 2012). The problematic challenge among experts, both for and against, is how much is enough? Conversely, Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is in favor of a larger military. However, while wanting a larger military, his stance was also that he wanted to cut defense spending, which is contradictory, since cutting defense spending is, in essence, cutting the military. According to the Washington Post in October 2012, “[…]military spending is one more area where Mr. Romney’s math doesn’t add up” ("Mr. Romney’s Defense Budget: It Doesn’t Add Up ", 2012).
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, or CSBA, printed a statement in September, 2012 requesting the leaders to use reasoned judgment and not artificial measures (Harrison, 2012). The article describes how the government military budget is often compared against the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. Using this system demonstrated that “…a percentage of G.D.P. or past spending levels would set the budget with little regard for what is needed or what we can afford” (Harrison, 2012). The CSBA concludes that the debate on funding should focus on threats, strategy, and fiscal constraints and not specifically on how much defense spends compared to the G.D.P. Yet in another article by the CSBA, they surveyed the military and determined that the cost per active duty member increased by 46 percent. The Pentagon spends 75% of its $500 billion budget on personnel costs (Bennett, 2012). The CSBA determines if personnel costs continue at this rate, it will consume 100% of the budget by 2039. However, that is with the assumption the military budget remains the same. CSBA also warns that large cuts could create a military that can’t perform basic mission (Bennett, 2012). One argument for a smaller military is that it keeps many American women and men out of harm’s way in battle zones, especially in places where the battles are not ours, but we have a vested interest. Arguments have been made the US should not have been involved with Syria for various reasons. Arguments such as “this is not our fight”, to “we can’t be white knights to every country that needs us” have been made ("What Readers Think About U.S. Intervention In Syria", 2012). One moral/ethical issue that comes up with a smaller military is the fact that the U.S. is at the tail end of a recession, and if people are not employed with the military, there may not be jobs for them when they return to their homes. A slow wind down of the military will allow for members of the armed forces to try and find employment as well as getting their financial houses in order. Arguments in favor of maintaining the military at its current size piggybacks off of the previous point and include that it allows soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines remain employed while keeping the country safe, in addition to “[…]providing global leadership that is needed and expected by the rest of the world, especially key allies, such as Israel” ("Romney Calls For Strong U.S. Role In World Affairs", 2012). Legally, while there are no ramifications that come out of having a larger military, morally, is it right to spend money on a large military when there are social programs that are needed for people throughout the country? Money that is used for the military will likely come out of budgets that will be used for health care, education, small businesses, stimulus projects such as roads, bridges and infrastructure, and a myriad of others. Does being a world presence and leader mean jeopardizing those other areas? These are things that need to be figured out when discussing the size and scope of the military. Another argument that is presented for increasing military spending is one that focuses on the pay and benefits of armed forces personnel. It has been argued that our military personnel are compensated in accordance to the demands that are put upon them, including multiple tours of duty as well as being in harm’s way. According to the article “Time to Adjust Military Compensation”, on CNN.com, “[…] we need to protect our people, but not every one of their current programs or compensation packages”

REFERENCES
Mr. Romney’s defense budget: It doesn’t add up . (2012). Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-romneys-defense-budget-doesnt-add-up/2012/10/18/89067636-1705-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_story.html

What readers think about U.S. intervention in Syria. (2012). Retrieved from http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/27/what-readers-think-about-u-s-intervention-in-syria/
Romney calls for strong U.S. role in world affairs. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/08/politics/romney-foreign-policy/index.html

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