President Obama has developed a strategy that will “gut the United States Armed Forces,” leaving the republic vulnerable to foreign aggression defended by a “hollow force” with reduced manpower, outdated weapons and reduced readiness to perform its primary mission.

The frightening part of the strategy is that Obama will receive a lot of support from Congress. Defense cuts is one of the aspects of the secret talks currently taking place between the President and congressional leaders at the White House.

Cuts in the military budget will do little to solve the national debt problem. At the same time, the President has announced that he will certify on November 20 that no harm will come to the military as a result of his rescinding “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” and keeping a campaign promise to the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual lobby that he would force the military services to accept homosexuality as normal and protected behavior.

A report issued by the American Enterprise Institute said that the Obama Administration wants to cut $900 billion from defense over the next decade. According to the report the funds are to be used to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare from cuts in the ongoing debt reduction efforts.

While Michelle Obama is traveling around the world talking about providing support for military families, the President is planning cuts in pay and benefits for active and retired military personnel and their families.

Thousands of military retirees were promised free medical care for life as a condition of their service and sacrifice. Once again it is under the budget ax.

One of the most ill-conceived proposals to save money comes from a congressional committee that recommended transferring the operation of military commissaries (grocery stores) to the military exchange. This is not a new idea, nor is it a good idea. The commissaries, if properly managed save the American military family approximately 35 percent on their grocery bill in the United States and much more overseas. It is a proposal this writer spent six years proving invalid. Between 1974 and 1980, independent surveys proved that for every dollar of taxpayer money spent on commissary operations, the military family saved three dollars on their grocery bill. Elimination of the commissary privilege would have the same impact as a large pay cut for a soldier with a family.

The military commissary customer pays a surcharge that is used to build stores that become U. S. Government property, pay for equipment, maintenance, utilities and supplies. Funds from the Defense budget, appropriated by Congress, pay the personnel costs.

Prior to 1974, military commissary stores were decentralized and operated by each post or base. On paper they appeared to be wasting money, Congress had abandoned Vietnam, and the military was going all-volunteer. The Defense department was given an ultimatum by both the congress and the Nixon Administration: “Reduce costs or lose your funds.”

I was given the job of creating standardized procedures and creating an organizational structure to manage the U. S. Army stores more effectively and efficiently. As the director and operator, I was able to select quality people. We created a headquarters and 5 satellite field offices to operate 135 stores worldwide where army troops were stationed.

We were the second grocery chain to adopt universal product codes and use scanners at check-out. Giant Super Markets in D.C. with 8 stores were first.

We invited the CEO of A&P and his staff to visit our office and tour our operations for several days. We had intended to “pick his brain.” During the exit conference, he said he had learned enough from us to revolutionize the grocery industry. We were operating stores in large converted warehouses; our cashiers were handling as much as 10 times the dollar volume as typical civilian stores. The industry thought it could not be done.

Our visitors returned to Chicago and A&P began plans to build the first “super” grocery store patterned after Army commissaries. The Bi-Lo at the corner of East North and Haywood was originally one of the A&P Super Stores. Now they are standard for the industry.

Army and Air Force Commissary stores are now consolidated under the Defense Department. Shame on them if they are less efficient and effective than before.

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Mike Scruggs