Last week, Defense Secretary Hagel outlined ways to slash military spending. His changes are the most radical in generations in the way our American military operates around the world. His proposed cuts include shrinking the Army to as few as 380,000 troops. Proportionate to our nation’s population, this would be the smallest Army since 1939. (Our national population in 1939 was approximately 130 million. Some of my readers might not realize that on September 1, 1939, the day of the Nazi invasion of Poland, the U.S. Army, with its 190,000 troops, ranked seventeenth in size among the armies of the world. It was smaller than the Romanian army at the time.) Further, Secretary Hagel has proposed the loss of two aircraft carrier groups, that the Marine Corps cut between 8,000 and 33,000 people, and that the Air Force gives up numerous bombers and transport aircraft. Even if Congress were to reverse the so-called “Sequester” spending cuts, the Pentagon plans to cut at least 50,000 Army soldiers. An August 1, 2013, Wall Street Journal article, “Branches of Military Battle Over Shrinking U.S. War Chest,” quoted Admiral James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that the latest Pentagon strategic review offered a “deep and very painful look” ahead. Indeed! Moreover, in an effort to cut spending, many swimming pools on military bases have been closed, and last month, Independence Day fireworks at numerous military bases were also cancelled.

But at least there is money available for really important things. The Palm Center has received a $1.35 million grant to study transgender service in the U. S. military. Indra Lusero, project director of the Palm Center’s Transgender Military Initiative (yes, there really is such a thing), has commissioned sixteen “scholars” to investigate “whether and how the U.S. armed forces could include transgender troops without undermining readiness.” According to the Palm Center, the Transgender Military Initiative is the largest and most comprehensive academic research project conducted to date on transgender military service. In a statement, Lusero said:

This academic research will inform an important public conversation by providing facts and evidence about transgender military service and gender expression in armed forces. Militaries around the world are updating their policies, and we are already conducting research in Canada, Britain and Australia to learn whether their trans-inclusive regulations have impacted readiness.

Militaries around the world have long used transgendered soldiers. As one example, here is a short video made in the United Kingdom in 1972 showing the discipline and precision marching of some British soldiers.

I suppose that as our nation moves to a hollowed-out military, perhaps we can use all the help we can. After all, if there is a highly qualified person who is battle-ready and transgendered, why not let them fight? As one example, former U. S. Navy SEAL Kristin (nee Chris) Beck fought for twenty years and was deployed thirteen times, serving in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. She chronicles her experiences in a book, “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender.” (No, I am not making this up.) Perhaps they could be far more persuasive in interrogating Islamic terrorists. (Or could that be torture per se?)

Many of our nation’s highest civilian leaders, as well as the sycophantic generals and admirals at the Pentagon, remind me of T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Men. You will recall that the poem begins:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion . . .

Eliot’s poem concludes, as will one day soon our nation:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I hope that everyone has a great week as we pray that Al-Qaeda does not rear its ugly head.