Will shrinking the US military slam the North Country’s economy?

Fort Drum’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team members U.S. Army Maj. Marc Beckage, Maj. Nicholas Ploetz and Lt. Col. Eric Johnson at a physical readiness training Aug. 8, 2012, at Fort Drum. Photo: Capt. Michael Greenberger, Department of Defense, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

NCPR’s Joanna Richards has a great story this morning on the ways that deep military cuts could affect the community around Fort Drum.

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?

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3 Comments on “Will shrinking the US military slam the North Country’s economy?”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    Let me see if I get this right. We need more wars so the military spending will increase and provide more jobs.
    Guess that is kind of like crime. We need more crime so the criminal justice system will provide more jobs.
    Have we become that nuts?

  2. John Warren says:

    I for one, am suggesting that folks at Fort Drum are doing busy work. Reporters ought to ask such questions.

    If our demonstrably war cheer-leading media doesn’t want to “suggest” it, they ought to at least be willing to look and see if it’s true. You know, reporting, not parroting the perspectives of people with skin in the military game.

    This investigation and discussion should begin with the question “is it necessary for us to spend vast amounts more in so-called ‘defense’ spending than any other country?” Not, “is cutting back our military going to hurt our local economy?”

    There really is no need to wonder how our news media got so hoodwinked into promoting a war in Iraq based on lies, is there?

    The answer is right here in front of our faces. It starts with the inability to ask tough questions.

  3. Ken Hall says:

    Pete asks: “Have we become that nuts?” to which I respond: “No, we have been that nuts for a long time”.

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