The Defense Drumbeat Blog

A recent article in the Weekly Standard extolled the defense funding levels agreed to in the U.S. House and commended the Armed Services Committee and Chairman Buck McKeon for his work.

According to the Standard, President Obama grew bolder in his determination to make defense cuts after the 2008 election. Mr. McKeon was credited for halting that trend:

House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon, along with Republican members of his committee, pushed [Rep Paul] Ryan to keep defense spending roughly where the Defense Department had requested. In a budget proposal that would cut $4 trillion over 10 years, Ryan managed to keep defense spending on a course for small but steady growth—roughly in line with Defense Department planning.”

Chairman McKeon opposes setting arbitrary dollar amounts for defense cuts and believes that any cuts should be seen in the lens of national security strategy.

In the same issue of the Weekly Standard, Bryan McGrath and Mackenzie Eaglen view the debate through that precise lens. In “A Day Without U.S. Seapower,” they write:

“The idea of a world without the benefit of preponderant American seapower may sound alarmist and farfetched. Unfortunately, those who follow military cutbacks and world affairs know that it isn’t.” In a ‘what if’ future scenario, McGrath and Eaglen list a number of disturbing world trends related to or made worse by the decline in U.S. Naval presence, the rise of Chinese power and unforeseeable future crises.  “China’s claims on the South China Sea are accepted”, “Iran dominates the Persian Gulf and is a nuclear power,” and “With the Navy no longer seeking to project power, the carrier force is decimated,” are all listed as plausible scenarios.

McGrath and Eaglen contend that “Changes in world naval power tend to play out over decades, and by the time action is taken to arrest decline, it could easily be too late.”  In order to prevent dire future scenarios as mentioned, the authors believe the U.S. should be focused on a strategy-driven analysis, concluding:

“America is a maritime nation, and our Navy is the most visible and effective symbol of our national power and strength overseas. Washington decision-makers should recognize the impact and influence of forces that are as useful in peacetime in deterring conflict as they are in wartime while pursuing it. And they need to recognize it before it’s too late.”

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