ne Woman’s Opinion
By – Sheri de Grom

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon must use defense budget cuts as an opportunity to reduce waste, reexamine weapons systems and reorganize thirty-year-old command structures.

Secretary Hagel is taking a different approach to sequestration than his predecessor, Leon Panetta. Panetta referred to the sequestration as a doomsday scenario. Hagel proclaims that while cuts as much as $1 trillion in planned spending over the next decade presents challenges and uncertainties, the Pentagon also must recognize the opportunities inherent in budget constraints.

I previously reported the number of Army enlisted service members that will be removed from active duty roles here.

In August, 2013, the Army will begin selecting 1,200 colonels and lieutenant colonels for early retirement.

I agree with the retirement board in that the seventy lieutenant colonels who have been passed over twice for promotion to colonel probably need to go.

However, there are five hundred active duty colonels on the list simply because they have been colonels for five years. Their next promotion would be to a one star general and, obviously, not every colonel will achieve that rank. It’s impossible. The Army is top-heavy with generals and only within the last week have we heard about possible forced retirements for them.

Our lieutenant colonels and colonels have just fought a decade-long war and this is our thanks to them? We’re going to tell them that they have to go? They’ve been deployed multiple times and their families have suffered irreparable hardships. Now they are told the Army no longer needs them.

The Army’s rationale for retiring the combined 1,200 lieutenant colonels and colonels is to make room for upcoming captains and majors. These more junior officers also need to advance in rank. However, with the turmoil we’re facing around the world on a daily basis, I’d rather have a seasoned senior officer (lieutenant colonel or colonel) making decisions and giving orders than a more junior officer.

Of additional note is that the economy is a large factor in how long our military officers are electing to stay active duty. They know jobs are hard to obtain and almost all of them have families to support.

Unlike previous drawdown efforts, there will be no separation pay for those who volunteer or are selected for early retirement.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel admits the United States faces evolving global threats. Will we be prepared to meet them if we continue to cut our troop strength in both the officer and enlisted ranks?

When it’s time to make strategic decisions about our nation’s defense who will we depend on? We won’t be able to shop at the local game store for Rambo soldiers or will we? Do you want to contract out the defense of our nation?

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. Thank you for the blog following, I am delighted to be following your blog also. Clarabelle

  2. This is a very disturbing policy. It seems inevitable that we, the US, are going to eventually get caught with our pants down around our ankles. By the time we realize the situation, at hand, it will be too late.

  3. Lynn says:

    You scare me, Girl, because you’ re right.

  4. Jane Sadek says:

    I’m with you. When did experience become such an devalued asset? If I was going to war, I’d much rather have the seasoned Lt. Col. that I know leading me, than the idiot majors and captains he’s always having to bail out of trouble. Our country is really in a fix. Where’s a New World to conquer when you need one? We had things going pretty good here in America for a while, but lately we’ve veered in a direction that worries me. If there were another continent to conquer, I think I’d be tempted to go.

    • Jane – It seems to me that we are so involved in battles that have been going on since Biblical Times that we have no idea of how to look forward. I mean really – who do we think we are that we can change things in a part of the world that doesn’t even want us there. I’d sure like to see the money we’ve spent in the Middle East used to educate the young and feed the young and the elderly in our own country where thousands of people go to bed hungry every night.

      • Jane Sadek says:

        Well, if I’m reading my Bible right, the saga of Isaac and Ishmael isn’t over until it’s all over, but you’re right, we have little business sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong.

  5. And when we sacrifice our military frivolously, the rosters fail to refill, especially when we let the experienced get away. Sad. Great post though. You have wonderful insight. I hope someone in Washington is listening.

    • Hi Renee – Everyone in Washington is busy listening to themselves. It angers me that we are in a war that’s been going on since Biblical times. Did anyone think we were going to make a difference one way or another. We haven’t made a difference since WWII when it comes to fighting a war. Thanks for reading with me. You had a great post today. It took me back to Monterey!

      • And I loved the very descriptive remembrance that you shared in your comment there. If I had to pick an aroma for this congress, it would have to be something sour. Everyone – regardless of party – puckers up when the conversation turns to their activity or lack thereof. We need some people of courage and honor filling those seats. Of course, they probably wouldn’t last long.

  6. OMG Sheri … does this sad saga ever end? Can we put to rest not only the need for a military presence, but once and for all show them some respect. It’s like cops. Everybody wants to hate them until at 3am the cop is all that stands between us and death. Does it always have to come to that?

    • Truthfully Florence, we’ll always need a military presence. Looking back through history it’s easy to note the lack of respect our military has gained from the non-military population. Some of it is brought on by themselves, some brought on by individuals that don’t have a clue as to what is going on in the world and others who believe some day we’re all going to act like adults and play nice. But, I’ve noted a large segment of adults don’t play well together and I don’t believe they ever will. Mixed into this large segment are individuals that wish our country and others serious harm – so I must continue to speak up against the downsizing of today’s military.

  7. findingmyinnercourage says:

    I 110% AGREE with everything David N. Walker posted and your response!

  8. words4jp says:

    Very insightful piece – and the comments are just as much – thank you for posting.

  9. Cutting our military budget is like eating the goose that laid the golden egg. Who do we think keeps us from being eaten by enemies from around the world? To pretend radical Islam, North Korean Communism, Cuban and Venezuelan Communism and other threats to our national security don’t exist is worse than burying our heads in the sand. It’s also offering our kids and grandkids up on an altar for aggressors to take at will.

    • Besides that, the military is about the only thing the federal government provides that benefits ALL citizens. Most other federal programs favor this group at the expense of that one.

      • David – I couldn’t agree with you more. The present generation is the first time we’ve seen families NOT traditionally following the military lifestyle. However, we’ve treated our volunteer forces so shabby, sons and daughters that do sign a contract, leave asap. The upper 1% of the all volunteer military is leaving the armed forces just as fast as their respective contracts are completed. They are well aware of how ‘things are supposed to be done’ and are fed up with how thing are being handled now. That upper 1% comes with a background of a completed college degree and most have masters level courses in management, communication, advanced engineering science, and on and on. It’s been proven over and over that our fighting troops have a higher education level than the general population for the same age group. They are also in better physical and mental health (until they are deployed and deployed again and again and again.) Remember Vietnam and you had to have a congressional waiver to serve a second tour in-country.

  10. I completely agree with you, Sheri.It isn’t logical to allow the future decisions of our country when/if we have to defend our country or others, to the junior officers. That’s kind of scary.

  11. atempleton says:

    How much institutional memory/understanding is lost when these officers are let go?

    • How about the average of the 25 to 30 years they have served plus the hundreds of thousands spent on sending each officer to class after class to understand the complexities of modern warfare. Of course the younger officers coming up through the ranks will already have had many of the classes but they are still lacking real life experience.

  12. gpcox says:

    Every time we downsize our military, we are caught off-guard; but then again, we have never been able to learn from history. The lessons we should have learned when we saw WWII growing and the unstable situation we left in Korea – should have had a lesson or two for us.

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