Hagel calls for shrinking Army to pre-WWII size
Hagel announced his Pentagon budget priorities Monday afternoon. The Army had already been preparing to shrink to 490,000 active-duty members from a wartime peak of 570,000. Hagel is proposing to cut it further to between 440,000 and 450,000.
That would make it the smallest since just before the U.S. entered World War II.
China and Russia Embark on Military Buildup as America Stands Down
Return of the former Soviet Union
and Vladimir Putin
From the Washington Post:
By Will Englund, Published: February 20
“We see zones of instability and artificially maintained, managed chaos emerging,” the current Russian prime minister wrote in a lengthy article that was one of a series of presidential campaign platforms. “Furthermore, we see how some are purposefully provoking such conflicts in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders.”
He said Russia’s military response to the U.S. missile defense shield would be “effective and asymmetrical.”
The promise to increase defense spending and modernize Russia’s forces is not new. On Monday, Putin said Russia will put more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles into service over the next 10 years, as well as eight nuclear submarines, 600 advanced aircraft, 2,300 tanks and an array of other equipment. Analysts, on the left and right, were skeptical that he can accomplish such a buildup.
China Boosts Military Spending
|China has announced that it will boost military spending by 11.2 per cent this year, in a move likely to cause concern about Beijing’srapid military build-up and stoke regional tensions.The increase was announced on Sunday by Li Zhaoxing, the spokesman for China’s parliament, and will bring official spending on the People’s Liberation Armyto 670.3bn yuan ($110bn) for 2012, after a 12.7 per cent increase last year and a nearly consistent series of double-digit rises across two decades.
China’s public budget is widely thought by foreign experts to undercount its real spending on military modernisation, which has unnerved Asian neighbours and drawn repeated calls from the US for China to share more about its intentions.
Li said the world has nothing to fear, and the money spent on the PLA paled in comparison with the Pentagon’s outlays.
“You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defence are quite low compared to other major countries,” Li said before the annual session of the National People’s Congress, the Communist Party-controlled legislature that will approve the budget.
“China’s limited military power is for the sake of preserving national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity,” said Li, a former foreign minister. “Fundamentally, it constitutes no threat to other countries.”
Budget ‘tops $100bn’
“China’s military capabilities plus its creeping assertiveness, its new kind of aggressiveness in the region, I think those are causes for concern,” Richard Bitzinger, a military expert and senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told Al Jazeera.
“I think what’s most significant, for me at least, is the fact that they finally topped $100bn in defence spending.”
Bitzinger said the ”ultimate cumulative effect is that it has basically propelled the Chinese into the second largest defence spender in the world, behind the United States”.
Obama has sought to reassure Asian allies that the US will stay a key player in the area, and the Pentagon has said it will “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”.
“China shares its land border with 14 countries; it used to make sense that a country in such a position maintains strong conventional forces,” said Kazuya Sakamoto, a professor at Osaka University in Japan who researches international security.
“But in this nuclear age, it does not really make sense China, a nuclear-armed country, continues to build up its military at such a pace.”
Obama’s proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2013 calls for a Pentagon base budget of $525.4bn, about $5.1bn less than approved for 2012.
China’s defence spending was 1.28 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2011, while the US and Britain both devoted more then two per cent of their economies to their military forces, Li, the Chinese parliament spokesman, said.
Japan and China have disputed over islands each claims in the East China Sea; Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations have challenged Beijing over claims to swathes of the South China Sea that could be rich in oil and gas.
Al Jazeera and agencies