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The point of these observations is not to take a position on sequestration but to observe that the discussion around existential threats, while valuable, should not be taken too far. One need only look at Maoist China during the 1960s as a consequence of why. China's military forces were good for defeating an conventional land invasion, but little else. As the country's international ambitions changed, its defense strategy shifted from the concept of "luring the enemy into the deep" into an evolutionary consideration of ever more flexible potential uses of military force. And in turn, efforts were mounted (and are still ongoing) to turn a large ground army with little power projection capabilities into a mobile, network-enabled force with the capability for local wars. China's economic success and population gives it a seat at the table, for sure, but regionally its potential ability to turn those resources into military power forces its neighbors, at a minimum, to pay attention.
As Dan has observed, the Founders of our own country clearly wanted a Navy that would be capable of exerting American influence abroad, a dream that reached maturity with Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. That has some major consequences--200 years of discretionary wars being a prominent one. But those wars have not had the human and material consequences, of say, the wars of Louis the XIV because they have rarely threatened major powers or depleted the American treasury. That is the difference between a continental power that constantly wages discretionary land wars with major powers and a naval/air/cyber one that targets middle and small states and violent non-state actors.
Population-centric counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, in light of the current fiscal situation, is an exception to the general rule because supporting and protecting large amounts of military and civilian manpower on the ground is fiscally wasteful and opens up those forces to attacks when they use local transportation infrastructure (or lack theorof). But this doesn't mean that discretionary wars will stop. And, as we have both written, drones have extremely little to do with it.
How much military forces are necessary today? That depends on how one calculates American security, economic, and legal interests and the ability of military forces to achieve them, a debate that is also larger than one blog post can wade into. The point of this series has been to hammer out a baseline for discussion.