Swoop: Washington’s World: January 30th – February 5th, 2012 – Covering More with Less Forces

Swoop: Washington’s World: January 30th – February 5th, 2012 – Covering More with Less Forces
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Swoop: “In the wake of the reductions in defense spending announced by Secretary of Defense Panetta on January 26th a flurry of briefings has taken place to discuss the implications for US grand strategy as well as for the Army and Air Force. While the actual reductions are relatively small – the ‘cuts’ are from projected spending growth and the real defense budget will continue to grow, albeit modestly – Pentagon planners are in no doubt that a significant shift has taken place in the US strategic posture.

Three elements stand out:

1) the proposed reductions in Army and Marine numbers suggest that expeditionary warfare as in Afghanistan and Iraq is being downgraded.

2) The retention – against some concerted opposition inside the Pentagon – of all 11 carrier battle groups sets the stage for ‘offshore’ power projection in the Persian Gulf and Asia-Pacific. US naval bases in East Asia will be expanded.

3) The additional funding for drones and special operations foreshadow more ‘light footprint’ operations like the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

All in all, while the character of US military power is changing, most analysts believe that the US global power projection capability is not.

Secretary of State Clinton will make this position clear at next week’s Munich Security Conference. Argument over the defense cuts will, however, feature in the presidential campaign. Certainly, the US does not feel under-resourced for any confrontation with Iran. With two carriers in the region, Pentagon officials feel confident that they can deter Tehran from ill-judged actions in the Strait of Hormuz. For the moment, the focus has switched to diplomacy. The Administration has welcomed the oil sanctions imposed by the EU and General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has reiterated his view that military action is premature. Iran does, however, present the potential for further irritation with China with regard to oil purchases.

Concern is, however, rising rapidly in regard to Egypt and Syria. The decision by the Egyptian authorities to prevent a number of US citizens from leaving the country has crystallized rising fears that the hopes of the Arab Spring will be stillborn. One consequence of this is that US pressure on Israel over the Middle East peace process – already minimal – will not increase.”

Source: http://theswoop.net / Videos from CNN and Euronews

Photo Credits:
MH-53s fly final combat missions in Iraq By james_gordon_los_angeles / FlickR
FLIR By raffaelesergi1977 / FlickR