There’s a lot of uncertainty, but national reorganization efforts brewing in the Pentagon could mean big changes.
“The post stands to lose up to 8,000 troops – or gain as many as 3,000 – in the upcoming Army reorganization,” Richards reports. “The changes come as the Army reduces its overall troop strength as more than a decade of war winds down.”
Meanwhile, in a story this morning in the Washington Post, Zachary Goldfarb reports on growing angst among pro-government stimulus groups that military cuts could crimp the economic recovery.
Military spending is rapidly becoming a less significant share of the overall economy. As a percentage of gross domestic product, defense spending started picking up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, rising from 3.8 percent and peaking at 5.3 percent in the fall of last year.
In the first three months of this year, military spending made up only 4.8 percent of the size of the economy, and that is likely to decline more.
In his article, Goldfarb interviewed Vermont Senator Bernie Saunders.
“I don’t want to see anybody lose their jobs. We are in the midst of a terrible recession. When you cut military spending you lose jobs, and that’s a terrible thing.”
On the other hand, Sanders said, military spending should not be preserved just because it keeps people employed. “You can hire millions of people digging ditches and hire millions of people to fill the ditches,” he said.
No one is suggesting that folks at Fort Drum are doing busy work. But there is a growing awareness that for communities like Watertown, defense and economic stimulus are interwoven in complex ways.
So what do you think? As Afghanistan and Iraq wind down, should we wind down the military as well? Or is this the wrong time to be furloughing tens of thousands of soldiers back into the civilian economy?