If you have watched the news at all this week, you have undoubtedly heard about President Obama’s plan to cut nearly half a trillion dollars from the Pentagon’s budget over the next 10 years. For military families, the words “budget cuts” and “defense” used in the same sentence always puts a knot in our stomachs.
Under the defense spending cuts, our military would be more streamlined and would concentrate more on Asia-Pacific and less on Europe while still maintaining vigilance in the Middle East. According to a transcript of a news conference at the Pentagon on Jan. 5, President Obama said, "Our military will be leaner but the world must know – the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meanwhile, appeared on PBS on Thursday and emphasized that after a decade of war, the Army and Marine Corps no longer need to be sized to support large scale long term military operations.
Many on Capitol Hill are not responding positively to these spending cuts. Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) argued on Fox News and other news outlets that because of these cuts America will no longer be able to support our allies, defend our interest or defy our opponents. He went on to say that the world will always have a leader. When American steps back, someone else will step forward.
For military families, some programs are expected to be cut. There could be possible changes to how we use the Commissary, a possible increase in medical co-pays for some and a new look at how we receive our retirement benefits. No specifics details have been laid out yet, so there is no way to know exactly what might be on the chopping block.
My husband and I used to play a game called Risk. We loved that game and played it obsessively for months. It is a strategy board game based on gaining world domination. The game pieces were little plastic soldiers, cannons and tanks. These pieces were earned and placed strategically on the parts of the world that you “owned." On your turn, you could move troops around to sure up your defense against would be attackers. If you had many little plastic soldiers, you could protect on all sides, but having just a few would leave you vulnerable.
War could be waged on your country by a neighboring country. If your opponent found your troops to be beefed up in that territory, they would not be as likely to try to take over your country for fear of losing too many of their own troops in the battle. However, if your troops were slimmed down and your defense looked weak, your attacker would come with guns (or dice) blazing! You would most likely fall easily and your opponent would be one step closer to world domination.
I know our real life military defense is not a board game, but I am wondering how many removed game pieces it will take before we look like an easy win.