Check out Alex Lovelace’s recent article on the history of defense cuts in the Washington Times. Alex is a 2011 graduate of Messiah College’s History Department and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in American history and military history at George Washington University. Here is a taste of Alex’s article:
The past year has seen both cries for cutting the defense budget at home and renewed violence abroad. With the economy continuing to decline, and the deficit continuing to rise, it is almost inevitable that the defense budget will continue to shrink. This, unfortunately, is nothing new. Throughout its history the United States has habitually, and foolishly, cut troop strength at the conclusion of its wars, and thus been unprepared when new conflicts emerged. With the debates over the defense budget and sequestration threatening to reduce U.S. troop strength even further, Congress would be well advised to look to history and remember that similar cuts have cost the United States dearly in most of her wars.
Since the Revolutionary War, Americans have debated how much money the military should consume in peacetime. At the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington’s Army was disbanded, and when the War of 1812 began the United States was little better prepared than the 13 Colonies had been three decades earlier. Six years after the War of 1812 ended, the Army was smaller than before the conflict began. The Mexican War (1846-1848) required the United States to recruit 50,000 volunteers to supplement its tiny regular Army. The high casualties sustained at the beginning of both wars was partly a result of America’s unpreparedness before the conflicts began.