The congressional super committee that was to allegedly make an effort to reduce the deficit has apparently chosen to play politics. It now appears that an impasse has occurred that will result in $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over the next 10 years. The portent for Alaska and the rest of the country of this taking effect is something that this governor and this Legislature need to ponder before the next legislative session begins in January.
The automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts will have an immediate and devastating impact upon the military. As a result of current FY 2012 cuts already in place, with additional cuts imposed by the automatic reduction in spending, the military’s portion of spending cuts will rise to $1 trillion. The result of this reduction, says Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta “will be devastating.”
Allegedly, the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operations are over. The troops will be coming home. Unfortunately, the war is not over, as additional areas of operations have been opened in the Middle East and Africa by President Obama. The latest operation being troops and helicopters very recently deployed to Ghana. Syria is now on NATO’s hit list with ever increasing threats and war talk by NATO countries. Another Alaska Army brigade is getting ready for another deployment to Afghanistan, even though the war is allegedly winding down. An Alaska Army National Guard unit was recently deployed to the Middle East.
Defense cuts necessitated by the recession will negatively impact capability, readiness and manpower in both active and reserve components through at least this decade. More military bases will be closed bringing the threat of the Congressional base closing axe upon Alaska’s two major military bases.
Under the Obama Administration, the National Guard and reserves play a major role in Libyan operations, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Balkans (Kosovo), and the expansion of the war into Africa, Libya, and Yemen.
Due to the weakening of U.S. force structure by spending cuts already in place, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Russians have initiated open military challenges not seen since the Cold War. The Russians have increased their presence and spending in former Soviet Republics in the Caucus Region with their invasion of Georgia (South Ossetia) and have increased their military presence in Moldava, Dagestan, and Chechnya. Russia has signed a treaty with Ukraine for an additional 25 years for the use of the former Soviet naval base at Sevastopol. Recently, the Russians moved two brigades of troops and additional air and naval units to the far north of Russia to once again challenge the West in the Arctic. The Peoples Republic of China has openly warned the U.S. to stay out of disputes in the China Sea with Vietnam and the Philippines. Chinese naval and air harassment of U.S. and Japanese naval units and aircraft continues off the coast of Japan and elsewhere in the China Sea. Both Russia and the PRC have adopted a first strike policy, with the PRC’s military doctrine being very explicit in designating the United States as its primary adversary.
The reality of our military situation is that our forces are stressed and overextended with multiple deployments ongoing at any time, all the while, suffering concurrent manpower reductions and budget cuts affecting readiness and capability. Major airlift capability is now limited with the closure of the C17 production line by the Obama Administration.
Given the realities of the recession, and the underlying causation of overspending for too many years, the impact upon the military capability of the United States will be draconian through this decade.
Entitlements, which have outgrown military spending, will be the last items reduced by politicians who put their reelection above the defense of the country.
With the downgrading of our military capability will come the wolves seeking advantage, first at the periphery of American military reach, then ever closer to our borders as they sense opportunity. This challenge to American power has already begun in our hemisphere. There are almost daily incursions from Mexico by armed paramilitary forces in support of drug smuggling operations. Iran is militarily invested in Chavez’s Venezuela. The PRC runs the Panama Canal and is expanding its influence in the Caribbean. Al Qaida and Hezbollah have a presence in South America, training personnel for infiltration into the Great Satan of America. Meanwhile, Russian TU95 Bear bombers of Cold War fame once again regularly test U.S. and Canadian air defenses.
Submarines of the PRC Navy have embarrassed the United States Navy at least twice during the Obama Administration. The PRC is accelerating development of tactical nuclear missiles intended to deal a death blow to the U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups in the Pacific.
The Canadians will not be much help in any Arctic defense strategy in the face of a declining military. The Canadians have already admitted that they may have to rely upon contractors for personnel and logistics.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the Afghanistan and Iraq operations was the reliance on Russian contractors for air transport of military equipment and supplies.
One of two strategies for maintaining the U.S. military will develop as the recession, inflation, and resulting world civil unrest increase. The increasing turmoil will result in an ever increasing dependence upon the reserves and National Guard for troops and equipment to augment regular military units. Or, the National Guard and reserves will be stripped of their equipment and reduced in manpower in favor of maintaining a viable, standing military.
The regular U.S. military will continue to be reduced, but called upon to do more, given the ever increasing decline in military capability in Western Europe and Canada. The U.S. Navy played a major role in support of the Libyan campaign by having to provide the majority of aircraft for the Libyan bombing campaign.
The impact of the increasing violence into the U.S. from Mexico’s drug wars will undoubtedly force future administrations to defend our borders from the threat of narco terror, further stressing the military.
James J. Carafano, a defense analyst for the Heritage Institute, in his article on State Defense Forces (SDF) “Small Answers to big problems” in the March 23, 2011 Washington Times, advocated for increasing the number of 32 USC § 109(c) State Defense Forces in the U.S. He also pointed out that the greatest resistance to the State Defense Force concept comes from the State Adjutant Generals, for reasons unknown.
In his letter to then Governor Sarah Palin in September, 2008, then LTG Craig Campbell, Commissioner/Adjutant General (TAG), DMVA, envisioned an expanded role for the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), including combat support, and a retention of the ASDF State Military Police Constabulary role as part of the State’s military force structure.
Since 2010, MG Thomas H. Katkus, Commissioner/TAG appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell, has worked purposefully to diminish, disarm, and render ineffective and irrelevant the ASDF. The Parnell Administration acted to disarm and to render ineffective the state-only part of the organized militia in favor of a federal-only emergency military response to disasters in Alaska.
The National Guard belongs to the President, not the Governor, and to believe otherwise is incredibly naive in the face of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions to the contrary.
This action on the part of the Parnell Administration in a time of war calls into question the Parnell Administration’s support of the 2d Amendment and Art. 1 § 19 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska.
The Legislature is complicit in its silence.
Those Alaskans who value their 2d Amendment rights need to be very concerned. The stage has been set and the precedent established with the disarming of the ASDF for the disarming of the Alaska unorganized militia in an emergency.
This is the first time that I can remember in my 57 years as an Alaskan that the Legislature and the Governor have acted with open eyes and clear intent to make Alaskans less safe.