Here's a thought: Maybe we shouldn't have a standing army. Maybe we shouldn't have hundreds of military bases (at least 660) in 38 countries. Maybe the thing that needs to be cut is the reach of our imperial ambitions... Nah, that's crazy talk! Forget I said anything:
The government's promise of lifetime health care for the military's men and women is suddenly a little less sacrosanct as Congress looks to slash trillion-dollar-plus deficits.
Republicans and Democrats alike are signaling a willingness — unheard of at the height of two post-Sept. 11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to make military retirees pay more for coverage. It's a reflection of Washington's newfound embrace of fiscal austerity and the Pentagon's push to cut health care costs that have skyrocketed from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion.
Maybe we could stop sending people to places where they suffer devastating head traumas and get important body parts blown off?
The numbers are daunting for a military focused on building and arming an all-volunteer force for war. The Pentagon is providing health care coverage for 3.3 million active duty personnel and their dependents and 5.5 million retirees, eligible dependents and surviving spouses. Retirees outnumber the active duty, 2.3 million to 1.4 million.
Combined with the billions in retirement pay, it's no surprise that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said personnel costs have put the Pentagon "on an unsustainable course."