Saturday, January 30, 2016

ELECTION TALKING POINT: What about the Size of the Army?

Lindsey Graham: Army is smallest since 1940, Navy smallest since 1915 from Politifact
"In the letter, Panetta said, "Facing such large reductions, we would have to reduce the size of the military sharply. Rough estimates suggest after 10 years of these cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history." As far as we can tell, Panetta’s assessment is accurate. The Army already is reducing the number of soldiers to 440,000-450,000 -- down from its recent war-time high of 570,000, according to the Defense Department’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. (Those reductions are the result of the ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not mandated budget cuts as part of the sequestration.)  Going forward, if sequestration-style cuts go into effect for fiscal year 2016, the number of soldiers will likely have to drop to 420,000. This is the lowest number of soldiers since 1940. Before the draft went into effect later that year, there were about 264,000 troops in the Army.  Turning to the Navy, there are currently 289 deployable battle force ships. According to the quadrennial review, there will be an estimated fleet of 234 ships in Fiscal Year 2019.  That is the lowest number of ships since 1915 -- two years before the United States got involved in World War I.  That year, the Navy had 231 deployable ships. In 2016, it jumped up to 245 ships. Still, Graham was trying to make the point that the budget cuts have weakened the military to points not seen in decades. However, we learned from experts that comparing the number of troops and ships doesn’t say much about military might.  We took Graham’s claim to several experts, who told us that comparing the American military of 2014 to that of the early 20th century is irrelevant. Because of technological advances, the ships and troops of today’s military have greater capabilities than they did in the world wars. "One of the reasons for the decrease in size -- both Army and Navy -- is that we now rely far more on technology than on sheer numbers," said Roland, the military history expert from Duke. "The question is not how we compare to our Army in 1940 or our Navy in 1915, but how we compare with our potential enemies in 2014. We are head and shoulders above them.""
This is the topic of many of today's posts -- get boned up on the facts as you will hear about this all the way to November!!

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