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It’s a new beginning this week in both Alaska and the United States.

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This past week saw two mainstays of American democracy take place: On Friday, the peaceful transfer of power, when President Barack Obama stepped down and Donald Trump was sworn in as president, and on Saturday, the right to protest peacefully.

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Monica C. Kintana, 90, died Jan. 13, 2017, in Ketchikan.
2/25/2014
Leaner military

Bigger or smaller aren't the operative words; the key word is effective.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with America's other military leaders, propose a leaner and definitely more nimble military.

Of course, looking at the size of the military is at least in part a result of the need for the nation to reduce spending. But that's not the only factor in the decision. The nation's military leaders aren't fools; they know America needs a strong defense.

The Democrats will support the new defense budget being unveiled by Hagel; Republicans will immediately be alarmed.

But both need to listen to the military leaders. If they say that transitioning the military to the current times requires reshaping the forces, then it needs to be done.

That means bases and jobs might be on the line. But, other jobs will need to be filled: jobs in the new military, requiring new skills. Bases in strategic locations such as Alaska should be maintained.

But, specifically when it comes to defense of this nation, the politicians should set aside their politics, listen to the military leaders — give them additional funding, if necessary — and ensure that the defense of the United States is up to date and can be effective in any circumstance.