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Obama's defense cuts: Can drones really keep us safe?
The president wants to downsize and modernize the mighty U.S. military to fit the nation's fiscal and tactical realities — and it's making some experts nervous
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone flies over Nevada: President Obama's new defense strategy calls for reducing ground troops while increasing unmanned drone fleets.
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator drone flies over Nevada: President Obama's new defense strategy calls for reducing ground troops while increasing unmanned drone fleets.
DoD/Corbis
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resident Obama outlined a new defense strategy on Thursday that aims to cut at least $487 billion from the Pentagon's 10-year budget by downsizing the Army and Marine Corps. Meanwhile, Obama wants to bulk up the Navy and Air Force in the Asia-Pacific region, and increase the military's supply of unmanned drone fleets, special operations forces, and cyber-weaponry. "Our military will be leaner," Obama said, "but the world must know — the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats." Is it a smart strategy to rely more on drones while cutting ground forces? 

Obama has struck a good balance: It may have come "at the barrel of the budget-cutting gun," but Obama's strategy is "a generally pragmatic vision of how this country will organize and deploy its military in the 21st century," says The New York Times in an editorial. He "argues, persuasively, that many of the challenges out there can be dealt with by air power, intelligence, special operations, or innovative technologies like drones." For the rest, we'll have a scaled-down Army and Marine Corps.
"A leaner Pentagon"

It's a mistake to cut ground forces: "Here we go again," says retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales in The Washington Post. Virtually every president since World War II has cut the Army to buy more ships and planes, and from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq, all those cuts backfired. Obama thinks we'll "confront China with technology rather than people." But remember, "we cannot pick our enemies; our enemies will pick us." And, as they have for 70 years, our foes will wage ground wars, because we already dominate the sea and air and space. We'll regret these troop cuts.
"Repeating a mistake by downsizing the Army again"

The devil's in the details: "Not every president gets it right on security strategy," says The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. But it's indisputable that "advanced technologies now allow for leaner forces with quicker results." Still, we won't know the details of Obama's plan until he submits his budget to Congress later this month. It will then be up to the legislative branch to ensure that our new strategy is bipartisan, not dictated simply by "what the national budget will allow," and, most importantly, true to "the federal government's primary role": "Defense of the country."
"Obama military strategy: Is it bipartisan enough?"

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