- - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement concerning the reduction of the U.S. military is troublesome on many fronts (“Hagel plans Pentagon cuts that would take Army to pre-WWII levels,” Web, Feb. 24). It is similar to the issues surrounding the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. There are many who believe that the United States either had prior knowledge of the pending attack or that we ignored the many signs that should have alerted us to the possibility of the attack.

The world situation today is much clearer. With North Korea, Iran, Syria and the many dangers facing Israel, the world can at any moment break out into another major conflict. We know about the potential conflicts, we also know about the declared intent of al Qaeda to damage us as much as possible. We know that Afghanistan and Pakistan are on the edge of becoming open antagonists, that China and Japan are eyeing each other over disputed territory. Is this really a time to draw down our military?

Mr. Hagel would have us believe that he cannot envision the need of a standing army able to occupy territory in any future potential conflict. I suppose the approximately 9.5 million-strong army of North Korea coming across the 38th parallel and running over our 38,000 troops and the South Korean forces could be pushed back with our reduced force scattered all over the world. Even if we could respond with our proposed entire standing army, they would be facing huge odds. Of course, the rest of the world would call a timeout to allow us to deal with one problem at a time — right?

The Department of Defense yearly spends approximately $253.8 billion on civilian contractors. It spends about $108 billion on its civilian employees. That’s approximately half of the entire department’s budget being spent on non-military types. Is there $3 billion somewhere in there so we can save the A-10 Warthog?

A professional, well-trained military provides us with the best way to avoid a conflict. If we want an effective all-volunteer military, we have to remove the uncertainty of its members being thrown to the political winds every time there is a budget problem.

ROBERT A. POGGI

Alexandria