Former Vice President Dick Cheney called the plan to slash military spending levels “absolutely dangerous” and “over the top.”
“It does enormous long-term damage to our military. They act as though it’s like highway spending – that you can turn it on and off,” Cheney said during an appearance Monday night on Fox News.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a proposal earlier in the day to whittle down the size of the U.S. military to pre-World War II levels. Hagel, a Republican, said it’s time to “adapt and reshape” the Defense Department to confront more current threats to security.
“As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DoD is making after 13 years of war,” said Hagel at a press conference.
The Fiscal Year 2015 defense budget must adhere to spending caps and cuts legislated in the 2011 Budget Control Act. That year, House Republicans demanded $2 trillion in dollar-for-dollar total cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. In December, the Ryan-Murray Agreement replaced about $30 billion of sequestrated defense cuts in 2014 and 2015.
President Obama wants to propose an additional $26 billion for the Defense Department for FY2015 through an Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.
Cheney said Obama hasn’t done any favors for the military, and suggested the cuts could have ripple effects for generations. “The fact of the matter is he’s having a huge impact on the ability of future presidents to deal with future crises that are bound to arise,” he said. “I can guarantee you, there’s never going to be a call from the future secretary of defense to Barack Obama, to thank him for what he’s done to the military. This is just devastating.”
Hagel himself warned the consequences could get much worse unless Congress reverses sequestration cuts.
“Sequestration requires cuts so deep, so abrupt, so quickly, that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough,” Hagel said. “In the short-term, the only way to implement sequestration is to sharply reduce spending on readiness and modernization, which would almost certainly result in a hollow force - one that isn’t ready or capable of fulfilling assigned missions.”
As for the long term Hagel added, “After trimming the military enough to restore readiness and modernization, the resulting force would be too small to fully execute the president’s defense strategy.”
With the reduction, America’s military forces would still be larger than Russia, China and the United Kingdom combined.