Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the current budget crisis will preempt full U.S. involvement in the current NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya. At a time when most NATO countries are hurting for money, they will also need to pick up more of the load.
This could be connected to the White House's recent position that DoD spending should be constricted in favor of spending for VA Healthcare. Under the Budget Control Act, overall spending is capped for the Defense Department, State Department, Veterans Administration and Department of Homeland Security. It's nice to see our government choosing veterans over defense spending for a change.
As for Panetta's current request, a similar request from former Secretary Gates did not work when the world economy was “flowing with milk and honey.” That said, I have three words to Secretary Panetta this time around, “Good luck, buddy.” But maybe he can sell snow to Eskimos better than Gates.
Currently, the U.S. has openly admitted to providing tankers, intelligence, surveillance, recon and drones in the current conflicts. Assumedly, these are the resources that will need to be scaled back in the future since it’s unlikely that any additional funds will come from any of the European Union nations involved in NATO.
Meanwhile, the Defense Authorization Bill is being held up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
Given the recent drawdown in Defense spending to support Veterans Healthcare, for a lack of a better way of putting it, it appears the Department of Defense and the Pentagon are essentially getting it from both ends. While we all support spending focused on veterans, we all share an equal concern that our military can no longer afford its prior military commitments.