Cuts We Can't Afford; Defense Spending; Second Round of Cuts by Congress Will Hurt Our Troops, Stunt Growth of Technology, Sow Seeds of Fraud

Article excerpt

Last year, Congress passed $487 billion in defense cuts as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said these cuts will be tough to make, but are feasible without threatening our troops or our national security. However, by failing to reach agreement on additional cuts also called for by this law, Congress has triggered "sequestration," a second round of even deeper cuts to our military that will take effect starting in January.

Taken together, these additional cuts, totaling $500 billion over 10 years, represent an unprecedented reduction of the U.S. defense budget during wartime, made more shocking because they're the result of partisan gridlock rather than thoughtful policy. The additional cuts resulting from sequestration will be especially devastating because they fall automatically across-the-board, slashing every single Pentagon program equally and indiscriminately, from ballpoint pens for the Pentagon to body armor for soldiers and Marines. No one thinks this would be a responsible way to proceed.

Troops on the front lines will be the first to feel the disastrous effects of sequestration cuts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said it would delay wartime contracts and weaken oversight. In effect, Congress could be planting the seeds for several hundred Halliburton scandals: food and other supplies arriving weeks late to forward operating bases, fuel shortages grounding planes and helicopters, and troops waiting even longer for mental health evaluations.

Sequestration will also erode America's military superiority over the next decade by cutting even the most essential defense programs. Any military commander will tell you that our ability to dominate the battlefield is not only dependent upon critical thinking but is fueled by superior aircraft, ships, weapons and intelligence. Sequestration would cripple each of these categories, virtually interfere with professional military education at our war colleges, ending the modernization of fighter jets, combat ships, helicopters, ground vehicles, drone aircraft and satellite technologies.

Without a thorough study of the art of war and first-rate equipment, the U.S. military will be far less able to deter gathering conflicts or quickly resolve conflicts we are unable to avoid. …