In two major speeches, President Obama sent strong signals this week about what he envisions for the military in a post-Sept. 11 era, a new path which can be described in a word: downsized.
The president said the United States will have stricter limits on drone attacks overseas and telegraphed a new emphasis on fighting terrorism, based more on focusing on targeted, isolated threats and less on an over-arching projection of force.
Just as the government’s mission is changing, so is that of the U.S. military.
Both are shrinking in scale.
During Obama’s four and a half years in White House, military spending has declined and the military active duty force has shrunk by about 29,000. American soldiers and Marines are no longer engaged in combat in Iraq and in Afghanistan their presence will soon dwindle to a residual force. “A perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments — will prove self-defeating,” the president said in a speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington.