For many that watch the news they know that these hard financial times have caused the military to drastically cut back their budgets, but to what extent does this actually affect the soldiers in the units and deployed? First let’s list the ways that these cut back have immediately affected the soldiers both here in the US and deployed.
First and probably the most drastic way it has affected soldiers is that the army has cut out hot, cafeteria breakfast at most if not all FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) overseas to deployed soldiers. These men and women are already sacrificing 6 to 18 months away from their families and are living in tough to poor conditions as it is overseas in third world countries and one day wake up to find that their cafeteria will no longer be open for breakfast. Yes they will still receive a meal in the form of an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) but the adverse affect that this has on the morale of the soldiers deployed is enormous in itself.
Next comes the affects on the soldiers remaining here at home. Tuition assistance that soldiers receive so that they may be able to go to school while in the army has been cut out. This has stopped many soldiers from enrolling in classes because they can no longer afford to go to school and live off what the army pays enlisted soldiers. Many soldiers want to finish and further their education so they are better leaders and can find jobs should they ever decide to leave the army.
Lastly are the effects that the cut back have had on the training of the soldiers. Units training budgets have been cut drastically to meet the new financial strains. Units are receiving less ammunition to train with as well as whole week long train missions been cut out of the training schedule. This is not just talking about training for support units but for infantry and airborne units as well. Soldiers without this will become less accurate with their weapons without consistent training and become more disoriented in the heat of battle causing confusion and miscommunication. These units rely on this training to make them effective in combat. Without proper training casualties in combat WILL go up!!!
These cut backs cannot be blamed on any one person specifically. The beauty of this once great nation is that it takes the Senate, the House and the President to prepare and approve the budget. A challenge should be presented to these individuals that before they drastically cut the military’s budget they should spend a year in our shoes – both stateside and deployed. Then maybe would they truly understand the effects of their decisions. Until then soldiers will continue to make something out of nothing defending this country and its beliefs and the lawmakers will continue to give themselves raises while cutting back those who choose to defend them.