Cut Military Pay-Let The President And Congress Take The Lead

For a Vietnam Veteran, it has been great to see how well our nation publicly supports the men and women of our Armed Forces today.  The President and Congress are some of their biggest cheer leaders which is as it should be.  Our troops are truly outstanding, superb representatives of our country and make us proud with their consistent professional performance.  It is a little known fact; however, that our Armed Forces have been engaged in combat operations somewhere in the world non-stop for over 20 consecutive years.

These combat operations have taken their toll on our military personnel, equipment and out tax dollars.  Highly trained combat forces and combat operations are not cheap.  We have paid a high price in dollars and lives to fight the War on Terror and remove despotic leaders that have abused power and people around the world.

Now our Nation is facing a huge problem in our national debt and the Administration and Congress are entertaining some broad and far reaching solutions to start reducing that debt.  This certainly needs to be done, but some of the suggestions are foolish at best.  One is to cut the pay of our serving members of the Armed Forces.  Another is to drastically change the military retirement program and reduce retirees pay.  All of this would be a breach of faith and contract with our serving military and retired veterans.

Maintaining the most capable military force in the world is not cheap, but can we afford not to have this capability?  This year our Armed Forces will under go a manpower reduction even though we do not have the active duty manpower to sustain our day to day worldwide commitments.  We are relying on our National Guard and Reserve forces to serve daily at the side of our active duty component so that we can meet the demands placed upon the Armed Forces by our Administration and Congress.  We are eliminating personnel because we do not want to pay for them now or tomorrow.

If the Administration and Congress agree that these cuts in military personnel, pay and retirement benefits need to be made to help address the national budget crisis, then it is time for them to lead from the front.  The President, the Cabinet, the Congress and the entire federal government staff should take the same pay cut and reduce the size of their staffs.  If the entire Executive Branch, federal government and Congress take the same cut, then I think all military active duty, Guard, Reserve and retired would salute smartly and take their place as part of the solution.

If the President, Congress, Cabinet, staffs and the rest of the federal government choose not to participate in helping to reduce the deficit, then don’t ask our military forces to do once again that which our political leaders choose not to do, or else there should be hell to pay.

Richard B. Bundy, Brig Gen (Ret), USAF

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