Dire Choices Over Defense Cuts

Jul 25, 2011
Defense Drumbeat
Several Armed Services Committee members took to the opinion pages Monday to draw a line in the sand over more defense cuts and highlight the dire consequences of cutting an already strapped force.

On the offense over Defense cuts
Subcommittee Chairmen Rep. J. Randy Forbes and Rep. Michael Turner along with Rep. Mike Conaway and former committee member Rep. Rob Bishop wrote “On the offense over Defense cuts” in which they make the case that without “sustained investments in our troops and their equipment, the military power our nation now wields in defense of our security—including our economic security—will slowly be hollowed out. The result is likely to be an America that can go fewer places and do fewer things in defense of its global interests.”

Instead of “sustained investments in our troops and their equipment,” the Obama Administration favors naming an arbitrary number of defense cuts and then crafting a national security policy based on these gutted capabilities, not our actual threats. Unfortunately, the Administration sees our defense budget as the acceptable place to cut despite runaway social spending.

As the Congressmen note, “Defense spending is not what put us in this position [financially], and gutting the defense budget to pay the bills is unlikely to get us out of it. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the defense budget remains … low by all historical standards. Even if we start slashing major portions of the budget — say $50 billion each year over the next decade — that figure would still only add up to a fraction of the nation’s debt. Yet the additional risk to the nation could be substantial.”

The Subcommittee on Readiness will meet Tuesday July 26th at 3:00 PM to receive testimony on total force readiness and look to address the dire readiness shortfalls we currently face and can expect to face if Obama or Senate defense cuts pass.

Our Future?
The Toronto Sun features an article “Once-mighty Britannia now virtually unarmed” that gives a preview of what might happen to the United States if we continue to cut defense spending to pay for entitlement programs, the real cause driving up national debt. Current British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said ‘We don't have the money as a country to protect ourselves against every potential future threat.’

Why can’t the United Kingdom protect themselves from their threats? First, they cut defense to pay for massive spending on entitlement programs, second they increased the commitments the armed forces have while cutting their budgets  and third, they’ve amassed a massive national debt which increases budgetary pressures nation-wide. The United States appears to be following the same game plan under the Obama Administration and Britain’s readiness deficiencies paint a bleak picture, should we continue this pathway.

Author John Robson notes “that Britain's army is now smaller than at any time since the Boer War, its air force at 1914 levels and the Royal Navy as small as Henry VIII's. It's presented as sound strategic policy but, Canadians and Americans take note, it really came from the welfare state's intellectual, moral and fiscal bankruptcy.”

Despite future threats and scenarios, Britain’s Defense “cannot withstand the fiscal storm brought about by runaway social programs.”

Robson also notes that “as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, [Blair] sent the armed forces everywhere from Iraq to Sierra Leone and Afghanistan while gutting them.”

Too Familiar
As the Defense Drumbeat has noted, President Obama believes that the US “can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of headroom to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that.”

Shortly before President Obama announced plans to cut a jaw-dropping $400 billion from the defense budget over a 12-year period, he committed our armed forces to a third war in Libya without paying for it. Presently, the Gang of Six debt ceiling reduction plan includes an astonishing $886 billion in defense cuts; all while the U.S. suffers from known readiness problems that will only be exacerbated with more cuts.

Robson closes with “Thus Britain is brought down at last. Not by Napoleon, Hitler or Phillip II, but by its own governments bent on buying votes and citizens bent on selling them. It's sordid and potentially tragic. And there's no end in sight ... except to once-mighty Britannia.”

Could this be America’s future?

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112th Congress