Tags: Iraq | Iraq in Crisis | Middle East | Syria | military | cuts | panel

Panel: Military Cuts Leave US Too Weak to Handle 'Global Threats'

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Friday, 01 Aug 2014 08:32 AM

President Barack Obama’s policy of shrinking the military has left the United States too weak to handle the multiple dangers it faces around the world, an independent panel has warned, according to The Washington Times.

The National Defense Panel, appointed by Congress, urged the president to abandon large sections of his 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and instead create a new strategy that will prepare the military to fight global hotspots on several fronts at the same time.

The downsizing of the armed forces.is a "serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States," the panel says, adding that the amount of troops recommended in the QDR are "inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment."

The independent overview slammed the defense cuts as "dangerous," especially in light of the fact that "global threats and challenges are rising," according to the Times.

The panel reached its conclusion as Obama has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats on two fronts – his reluctance to support the rebels in Syria and his response to violent Islamic extremists who plan to turn vast swaths of territory in Iraq into a caliphate.

The panel of outside military experts was created by Congress to oversee the QDR strategy for the future of U.S. forces and the reserves, according to the Times. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appointed former Defense Secretary William Perry and retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, who ran U.S. Central Command during the Iraq war, to chair the panel.

The panel’s report said that American allies are concerned that they can no longer rely on the United States to defend them in a crisis due to years of U.S. military reductions in force size and weaponry, resulting from Obama administration mandates brought about by budget cuts, the Times said.

"Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve," the report said.

"Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating."

The panel says that QDR only allows for the military to defeat one enemy at a time, instead of its previous mission of taking on at least two threats at once. But the panel said that "the international security environment has deteriorated" since the QDR was drawn up earlier this year.

California Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the independent review shows the administration is more focused on minimizing the armed services as part of its budget cuts rather than dealing with future global security threats.

"It is the same conclusion many Americans have already reached," he said, according to the Times. "There is a cost when America does not lead, and there are consequences when America disengages."

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