As the Pentagon unveils its proposed budget for fiscal 2015 this week, two of its military departments are facing tough times, and the third is facing a genuine crisis. The organization in really deep trouble is the Department of the Army, which can’t cut its end-strength fast enough to rescue both readiness and modernization from the maw of the Budget Control Act. Because of the way it began cutting headcount during the first Obama Administration, the Army gets little credit under the budget law for separating an additional 20,000 soldiers from service every year. Thus, all of the savings required to comply with congressionally-mandated budget caps are coming from readiness and modernization — a problem that could persist through the end of the decade. What that means in practical terms is that the Army has largely ceased developing new weapons to replace Cold War gear and will only be able to upgrade what it already has through 2020. The negative fallout for Army warfighting capabilities could persist for decades. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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