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What would happen if the US decided to shut down its military for one year?

Scott YoungCommissioning Specialist Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

“Would this net us hundreds of billions of dollars?”  Not as much as you might think.  You cannot just park an aircraft carrier, lock it up and walk away like you can with a Ford F-150.  Even a ship is not on patrol / missions / etc, someone still has to maintain it.  The same with the complicate aircraft and armoured vehicles.  You have already indicated that base maintenance / security has to be maintained.  Maintenance does not go away.  

Here is the budget from 2011
Components                         Funding     
Operations and maintenance   $283.3 billion
Military Personnel                   $154.2 billion
Procurement                           $140.1 billion
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation
                                             $  79.1 billion
Military Construction               $  23.9 billion
Family Housing                      $    3.1 billion
Total Spending                     $683.7 billion
Military budget of the United States

Since the Military is coming back in a year:
O&M stays
Procurement still happens.
R&D still happens
Military Construction – can’t stop building
Family housing?  Are you planning on kicking families out of their homes?  Not likely.

So the only place we are saving money is in Military personnel.  Some will be providing security (bases and Marines in embassies), some doing maintenance, some training, lots of planning to do when the remaining personnel gets back so you would be spending about a third of that budget.  Total savings 100 Billion?

“Would we get away with it?”
The consensus is that a lot of things don’t happen because the US military prevents it.  Would the Straits of Hormuz remain open if the USN does not keep the Iranians sort of in line?  Who will China attack?  Japan, Vietnam, Thailand?  they have disputes with all of those nations.  Would Taiwan be there in a year or would it be a Chinese province in fact as well as de jure?  Would North Korean decided to go for it?

The world would be a very different place in a year.  I would say no.

“Let’s say a massive planning effort was done to find good jobs in the industry (near their homes) for most of the active military.”
The US Military spends a lot of money to train their people.  That is why they use re-enlistment bonuses and pensions to keep them They, however, do not pay as well as the “good jobs in the industry (near their homes)”.  So how many people do they lose to these good jobs?  Half?  It is tough to take a cut in pay to go back to risking your life and since the world is in a much different place, You are much more likely to actually risk your life. The military personnel would have a year to think about this.  

So you lose a lot of trained, skilled, experienced soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.  You would have to train up new ones while preparing for the wars that will pop up when you try to go back to the old situations and the Chinese / Iranians / North Korea object.

You need to replace a lot of people.  That takes training.  Where do we get the money from?  Oh yes, we have a 100 billion dollars laying around here, somewhere,  that ought do to it.  

Pluses = You will get a block vote from the peace activists for the next three elections running 
               You probably saved a few million

Minuses = You lost several million trained personnel to retirement 
             = You owe them pensions
             =  A lot of your intimidation factor is gone
             = You are going to kill off a whole bunch of the personnel that are left regaining that intimidation factor.
             = Other countries have had the chance to make moves that strengthen them and weaken you.  The only way to reverse this is to kill a bunch of whoever “they” are while losing a bunch of your new guys.  

Not a really good idea for the USA.


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