The plan takes as its point of departure the $496 billion in spending authorization for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins October 1, 2014, set under the bipartisan budget deal last December. This does not include an additional $80 billion in spending on the war in Afghanistan, set aside in an overseas contingency operations fund.
Thereafter, however, the budget plan assumes that the sequester cuts for FY 2016 and subsequent years will not take effect. Hagel and Dempsey warned that those cuts would dramatically worsen the readiness and effectiveness of the US military, essentially demanding that Congress rescind them, which would add $115 billion to military spending over the five-year period.
While the Hagel plan has been portrayed in the American media as a drastic scaling back of the US military -- with headlines focusing on the cutback in total Army personnel to a level last seen before World War II -- the real content of the budget is a shift in the military strategy of American imperialism.
Instead of protracted wars of occupation like Iraq and Afghanistan, involving hundreds of thousands of ground troops stationed overseas for many years, the Pentagon restructuring is geared to different types of warfare envisioned in coming decades.
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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).