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Legion opposes defense cut proposals

Legion opposes defense cut proposals
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn

The American Legion's National Executive Committee unanimously passed an official statement today that the Legion "encourages Congress and the administration to cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level."

The American Legion strongly believes that proposed cuts to the Department of Defense and veterans benefits would not only hurt the economy, it would also cause irreversible and irreparable harm to the U.S. military's capability to defend the nation.

Officials in both The American Legion and the Department of Defense are extremely concerned about the work of the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The bicameral "super-committee" is charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in overall federal deficit reductions over 10 years. If the bipartisan group does not agree to a plan by Nov. 23, automatic spending cuts are triggered, including $1 trillion in defense spending.

Those cuts "would leave us with the smallest Army and Marine Corps in decades, the smallest Air Force in history, and the smallest Navy since (William) McKinley was president," former Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn said last week to the Center for American Progress. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the potential cuts "catastrophic."

"It is unconscionable to consider cuts to defense while we are engaged in three wars," American Legion National Commander Fang Wong said. "Throughout our nation's history, every time we cut defense we have paid for it with American blood."

Lynn pointed out that the first engagement of the Korean War, "Task Force Smith," came after a major drawdown following the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II.

"Teenagers fresh from basic training, led by officers who lacked combat experience, found themselves facing a numerically superior North Korean force. With only 120 rounds of ammunition each, two days of C rations (and) six antitank shells, our forces were simply unable to stop the North Korean advance.

"Each time we reduced the defense budget, we created holes in our military capabilities that we had to buy back later at great cost," Lynn continued. "When we were lucky, that cost was in dollars. When we were not lucky, that cost was in the lives of our troops."

The official statement by the Legion, Resolution 1, points out that Panetta stated a $1 trillion cut in national defense would increase unemployment by one percent. "Even if this unemployment increased by only one-third of one percent, it would equate to approximately 500,000 jobs lost," the Resolution states.

Wong, a Vietnam War veteran, warned that proposed cuts to the military's retirement pension and health care systems will also hurt America's ability to retain the forces that it needs. Some have proposed that future military pensions be converted into 401(k) plans.

"Comparing military retirement benefits with what is available in the private sector isn't comparing apples to oranges. It's comparing apples to peanuts, which are what our troops are paid," Wong said. "If our leaders in Washington are intent on making military life like the private sector, then that's the path our young people will choose - the private sector! ‘Grandfathering' benefits for today's military, while cutting benefits for tomorrow's warriors, guarantees that America will be less prepared to fight the next war. As it is, only about one-half of one percent of the U.S. population is currently serving in the military, meaning that veterans are already making a disproportionate sacrifice in fighting the Global War on Terrorism.

"We all understand that America has an enormous national debt," Wong continued. "Yet, we have no debt larger than what is owed to our veterans and those still serving in uniform. They have already paid their share. Cut the budget elsewhere."

More in Veterans Benefits Center

 

robert merkov

November 2, 2011 - 8:31pm

As a 20 year vetern, hell yes we need cuts, but not to military needs, the defense budget needs to be cut that supplies all of those civilians doing servicemens work. The unneeded junks and office furniture, high dollar parts all designed to get work in a congressmans state. Budgets that allow people like Obama that sends troops to places like Africa after already supporting 2 worthless wars. Maybe he does not remember Somalia. Bring our troops home and let them patrol our own borders. We need defense cuts around the world for all of the stuff we leave when the troops go home. I can't think of 1 GI who thinks the Arab States, Africa, Somalia or any other dismal country is worth 1 US soldiers life.

Gunner-111th

October 29, 2011 - 12:14pm

I'm not sure where that I may fit in here, but here is a comment. In the 1980s we were being feed C-rations in the field from the 1950's. Most of our equipment was built in the mid-40's to prior to the 60's, and that is what we trained on and used in the 1980s. We 'upgraded' to a 'new' weapon system that was built in in about 1954, so at that time the main system was 33 years old. The US people are generally treating OUR/THEIR VETERANS like shit. I spent 8 years in the NG and have an Honorable Discharge, and decorated in Combat Weapons competition, and the State of NM and the US Gov' have Denied me any benefits thus far....... WTF?

rong01

October 14, 2011 - 11:46am

I believe we are in error in opposing defense cuts. Certainly we need to retain and promote veterans' benefits. But I believe defense spending in general hurts the economy by wasting resources on costly military material that could otherwise be used for things that improve human welfare. I also believe it works against long-term security and defense by bleeding us white trying to police the world on our own...and often creating more enemies in the process. I believe our strongest defense will be with a strong economy, modest standing military, and clear foreign policy that keeps us out of trouble and acts collectively with other nations for collective security. I believe, as the Legion, we should focus on taking care of veterans -- not looking for more opportunities to put our young men and women in harms way.

flavet

October 13, 2011 - 10:13pm

let us not forget how we got in this financial swamp. the previous administration started two wars and made huge tax cuts. no leader in his right mind would do such a thing. we have experienced more than 46,000 wounded in these wars.a majority are seriously wounded and will require medical care for the rest of their lives. will their be a budget for that? i recently viewed the film SEMPER FI,listened to severely disabled people who spent time at camp lejeune, nc from the late 50s until the mid 70s. they were exposed to poisoned drinking water which has caused 100s of stillborn or deformed babies at the base as well as many 100s of adults with severe and unusual cancers. a retired senior marine nco led a fight to have the government correct this problem and take care of these people. the bills in congress have died on the floor of both houses. the freshmen senator from fla when asked to meet with marines and families reportedly sent an aide who told them there was no budget for this.

John Martin Fogle

October 13, 2011 - 6:29pm

If now is not a good time to cut the defense budget, then under what possible scenario would it be a good time? With two wars winding down and the country in economic need, I strongly believe it's a no-brainer to cut the defense budget. As a serviceman with 10 years AD and facing a RIF board I still agree with the cuts. Even with some cuts we will still have a larger defense budget than any other country on earth with a military that no other country can compare to. The MIC is way too bloated (as Eisenhower feared it would become) and it too often affects national policy as it is. A cut in the defense budget wins the cost-benefit analysis in so many aspects. It's time to wind down the fear machine anyway.

Dadbug

October 13, 2011 - 2:58pm

Anyone with any common sense knows the US Defense budget is excessive. Here we are in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting a bunch of guys in civilian clothes, using IED's, who hate the US, at at the same time we have 11 huge naval carrier groups designed for fighting Russia that are useless in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the problem is the amount of money for US defense, the problem is what should the US defend itself against? You don't need F-22 fighters to go against guys riding camels and carrying AK-47's. So who are our enemies? What should be defend against? And is our insistance on huge carriers, stealth bombers, tanks, and huge land warefare systems what we should be spending money on? Remember, the US Military want all the latest playthings. They have unlimited demands for new hardware and toys. The US has limited financial resources. Defense has got to realize this and do more with less.

jarhead4life

October 13, 2011 - 1:24pm

if big government wants to cut benefits to those of us who protected them also why not look into cutting wages they earn, is a suite and tie job agreeing to disagree looking out for their own personal gain not those they are elected to serve more deserving of inflated,high scale pay than the small benefits, just above poverty, the men and women risking life and limb for every citizen of this nation to have its rights and freedoms.when i reflect on which job deserves the highest wages my math is simple NO ELECTED OFFICIAL SHALL ENJOY ANY RIGHTS OR BENEFITS ABOVE THOSE THEY SERVE now that would clear up the debt problem in my view can anyone disagree if not only to show me the error in my thinking it will be welcome to prove me wrong as long as its an educated proof of wrong i will look at it and if im wrong i will have gained new knowledge because my present stand makes me feel all alone that everyone is not singing my song

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