The combination of recent cuts and longer-term reductions have been hollowing out America’s armed forces. Real Clear Defense has the details on what that means for their readiness:
The modern day version of “tiered readiness” has arrived for the U.S. military. While the news has yet to sink in the minds of Washington leaders, the state of affairs across the force speaks for itself.During the defense drawdown in the 1990s, this concept was instituted with units preparing to deploy at peak readiness while the majority of the remaining forces stateside, especially those in the Reserve Component, were not. This was sanctioned by Pentagon leaders as a way to produce savings while (supposedly) preserving force structure and modernization where possible. While the idea was eventually rejected, budget cuts combined with a relentless pace of operations have resurrected “tiered readiness” for those in uniform.What does today’s tiered readiness look like? For many Navy F/A-18 fighter pilots currently not flying given aircraft equipment shortages, it is a situation described as one of “haves” and “have nots.” Pilots in a conflict zone or high-tension area are getting the staff and parts needed to keep jets in the sky. But those not deploying anytime soon are forced to sit idle alongside their parked aircraft and wait.
Naval aviation is just the tip of the iceberg, as the article notes. Since 2010, U.S. defense spending has declined each year, as the nation anxiously awaited a “peace dividend” from the end of the war in Iraq and a larger withdrawal.But a sea change may be coming for military spending. Due to the recent Republican upset in the Senate, John McCain will be the next Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The day after the election, McCain declared that his first goal will be to end sequestration. We may have finally seen rock bottom as far as gutting the military goes.