I always try to be as "up" on the issues facing both the electorate and elected officials at the national Federal level as I can. To that end, I recently read a most illuminating and informative 2013 study edited by David M. Kennedy entitled, The Modern American Military, published by Oxford University Press and featuring an array of authorities on the overall subject of our
All-Voluntary Military or AVM. Weíve had that in place since 1973, when President Nixon persuaded Congress to end the military draft of 1948-73. Thus, we have now had the replacement AVM for 43 years, and it has performed well battling terrorist forces, especially since 9/11 in 2001.
I highly recommend this book to all of you! It raises a number of issues that anyone serving in the United States Senate starting in 2017 will have to know about and be prepared to deal. In 2013, the AVM included 1.4 million servicemen and women serving in all Five branches of our US Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Backing up these active duty personnel was
a Selected Reserve component force of 850,000 more service people if needed. These constitute the overall "legions" of our military Shield, that includes our State Reserves and National Guards as well.
One of the future problems facing the US Senate and House of Representatives meeting in Congress assembled at Washington, DC is and will continue to be this: in 2013, the Department of Defenseís budget costs jumped from $ 19 billion when the current War on Terror began in 2001 to $ 50 billion in 2013, with health care costs alone projected to rise 8% every year. It is
projected that these health care costs alone will consume the entire Defense budget within 20 years, or by 2033 from that latter date.
During that same considered timeframe of 2001 and 2013, the overall Department of Defense budget rose from $ 77 to $ 180 billion as well. Those are truly sobering figures. Iím on the road to researching them and seeking the answers as to how best to pay those costs, and also to be able to afford them, no simple task!
The 2013 study noted that, "Both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that neither the Pentagon nor the country can afford the exploding personnel costs of the AVF/Force now (then)," and that was why in January 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for a 100,000-person force reduction, with cuts as well in base pay,
retirement, and health care for our veterans.
This time next year---in 2017---I expect that we will be in another ground shooting war in the Mideast, in Syria, where the military has always wanted to be since at least 2001. With the twin threats of ISIS and ISIL now bringing the war ever more to our own shores, we canít very well not fight them. As we do, we will have to grapple with the above mentioned financial problems
to ensure that out serving and retired veterans---of which I was one during 1966-67---get all that they both need and deserve to live decent, healthy lives.
In 2013, the US was due to spend $ 100 billion on military retirements, and by 2034, itís estimated that these costs will have risen to $ 217 billion. Here again, Marylandís next US Senator in 2017 will have a real job on his or her hands, and if I am that person, I will have at least recognized that there is and will continue to be such problems as outlined above facing me
and the other 99 members of the Senate and our colleagues in the House.
No one has all the answers, but I will be dedicated to finding them, as I have up to now learning about what the problems are, and doing my best to understand and then solve them.
As Yoda was quoted in the Star Wars movies, "There is no try---there is only do!" Amen!
Thank you for your kind consideration!