The military budget has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years. The ongoing War on Terror has stretched the budget thin, to the point of almost breaking. Each service needs an influx of billions of dollars to restock and refurbish their equipment and supply the ongoing war efforts.
But how much of a toll is it taking on our nation’s troops? The USAF is asking for a $20 billion bump in next year’s budget to pay for modernizing their fighter fleet. The aging F-15s andF-16s are becoming more and more expensive to maintain. The USAF’s plan is to eventually replace them with hundreds of F-22s and over a thousand F-35s.
To pay for new aircraft and upgrade other weapon systems, the USAF has undergone several rounds of voluntary and involuntary reduction in forces. The USAF simply cannot support the current number of Airmen and afford to pay for modernized weapon systems.
The Army is struggling to replace armored troop carriers and outfit their Soldiers with proper protective equipment. They are also struggling with retention. The Army is currently giving record payouts for reenlistment bonuses to retain Soldiers, but it is coming at the expense of other troop benefits and welfare programs.
These problems are affecting our troops in many different ways and as a result, their quality of life is suffering. To keep pace with the war efforts and the decreased budgets, troop deployments have been extended several times. It is now very common for members of all branches to serve 6-15 months in a designated war zone. Some of this is due to low troop numbers, but another reason is that it just costs too much money to rotate troops and equipment between deployment locations more often.
In many cases, PCS movements have been cancelled or delayed in an effort to save money. Morale programs have been cut or eliminated, and troops are seeing diminished support services at many bases. When will these cutbacks end?
There is no clear cut solution at this point. In my opinion, as long as the War on Terror continues, there will be continued effects on troop quality of life.