The Pentagon is laying off thousands of military officers, including those serving or who have recently served in Afghanistan.
Defense Department officials said the reductions are the result of mandatory spending cuts imposed by sequestration and are part of their larger plan to reduce the number of US soldiers from 520,000 to 450,000.
Roughly 2,600 captains and other officers have or will be laid off, with more expected, Fox News learned Friday.
Put aside, for a moment, the sheer ingratitude of sending pink slips to our deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Getting rid of these highly-experienced combat forces is strategically insane.
Any competent executive in the private sector knows successful businesses don’t push talent and experience out the door. If you spend millions of dollars training someone, you do everything in your power to retain them.
The same is true of our military. After a decade of combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan, today the United States has the best trained, most capable, battle-hardened military force in the history of the world. They are a national security asset whose value is without measure. Why would we push them out the door? We should be doing everything we can to retain this pool of talented individuals.
Once these troops have left for civilian life, there is no way to get back that lost knowledge and experience down the line. A weapons system can be replaced. Combat experience cannot. No amount of training or exercises can replicate the unique store of knowledge our troops have built up on real fields of battle.
The Obama administration’s rationale for these force reductions is that, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ending, the US is not going to be fighting major ground wars anytime soon. Really? How do they know? We may not want to send American troops to fight another ground war, but the enemy gets a vote. The Middle East is on fire. North Korea is unstable. Terrorists are carving out new safe havens in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. There are any number of scenarios in which the US may have to fight a war it did not ask for.
If we want to deter potential adversaries, they must know we have the capability to decisively defeat them. If they think that we are not ready or willing to engage them in ground combat, they are more likely to miscalculate. Drawing down our forces too rapidly makes war more, not less, likely.
We need these battle-hardened troops – because we need their experience, and because we need them to pass it on to the next generation of soldiers who, we hope, may not see combat on a scale that the current generation has.
Getting rid of them is no way to treat the troops who have protected us in the post-9/11 world. It is also bad national security policy.