Bruce K. Gagnon
RINF Alternative News
Secretary of War Chuck Hagel yesterday announced the Obama administration’s Pentagon budget proposal for the coming year. Despite mandates for cuts in military spending after agreements with Congress under sequestration, Hagel actually calls for an increase of more than $115 billion for war making.
The Hagel budget basically calls for cuts in Army ground forces and cutbacks in military pay, housing and commissary facilities on bases. Life for the enlisted will become more difficult. The Pentagon is also calling for the closing of a few National Guard posts in some states.
Hagel calls for ‘sustaining’ the Pentagon’s nuclear triad – air, ground, and sea delivery systems of nuclear weapons. Also called for is an increase in drones and robotic forces as well as significant expansion in cyber warfare capabilities.
Wall Street immediately reacted by joyfully giving Lockheed-Martin all-time high stock gains. The writing on the wall is clear – cuts in troop levels and increase in high-tech space directed war-making capability.
We will see an expansion of US “hidden” wars in the near future and the Obama budget reflects this reality. While Hagel wants to pare back the size of the active-duty military by 13% and the reserves by 5% in coming years he would boost the size of Special Operations forces by about 6%. The plan is to add more than 3,000 personnel to the kinds of special ops forces teams that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
These same clandestine forces now operate in more than 75 countries around the world. In his film “Dirty Wars” investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill reports on the largely unaccountable Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that is now doing targeted assassinations, destabilization, and training of right-wing and terrorist forces used by the US in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and beyond. The corporate oligarchy is moving rapidly to consolidate their total control of the people around the world and the US is playing its role of “security export” rather well.
Mainstream media reports of the Hagel announcement also tag two key places on the planet that will receive special emphasis from this new budget. Those are the African continent and the Asia-Pacific. This is where the long-range military operations planning and funding are heading.
Our organizing (no matter whether it is local, regional, national or international) needs to take into account this very fundamental direction the Obama supported military complex is tacking toward.
In addition it is important that we all talk more about jobs. It will be hard to cut military spending because of the local jobs issue. We must speak to this fundamental concern that is wrapped in fear, as everyone knows that jobs are scarce these days.
The growing conversion movement across the nation indicates that more and more groups are making these job connections. Imagine if military production workers and the peace movement were to stand hand-in-hand calling for conversion of the military industrial complex. In the early 1990’s that was indeed happening across the nation when William Winpisinger served as President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He vigorously took on the responsibility to link military production workers with peace groups in order to successfully demand conversion after the end of the Cold War. That promised “peace dividend” though never came to be as new “enemies” were created in the Middle East and Central Asia. The conversion issue was deflated”.. but not defeated.