Americans may be paying more for defense while getting less in troop strength, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hinted Monday.
During a speech at the Pentagon, Hagel said plans are for the active-duty U.S. Army to be cut from its current 522,000 soldiers to as few as 440,000. The Army has not been that small since before World War II.
At the same time, Hagel said President Barack Obama wants to enhance the Pentagon budget. The Defense Department is scheduled to receive $496 billion next year - but Obama wants to add $26 billion to that.
Obviously, the cost of military hardware continues to increase dramatically. Just as plainly, however, the Pentagon wastes billions of dollars each year.
One way of reducing defense spending is to close more military bases in the United States, Hagel said Monday.
What about overseas? Why, for example, do Americans continue to spend $2 billion a year to station 50,000 troops and Marines in Japan? Why is Japan allowed to benefit from that, while contributing just $200 million to the cost?
Europe, where about 70,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed, is a similar situation. Hagel and Obama should look at base closings - abroad.