The opponents of a strong defense haven’t surrendered

The 100th birthday of the late Ronald Reagan – America’s Defender-in-Chief – will be tomorrow, and the opponents of a strong defense haven’t surrendered yet. Quite the contrary, their anti-defense rages have worsened.

Take the libertarian Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. Apparently, he hasn’t noticed that 81.5% of all federal spending is civilian spending (and 56% of the entire federal budget is composed of entitlements), so he’s advocating deep defense cuts, and recently, in a letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he urged them to advocate deep defense budget cuts while threatening to vote against any legislation that does not reduce defense spending. Moreover, the senator from Oklahoma, who can’t even shave his face properly, falsely claimed in that letter that if the federal budget is to be balanced, “the defense budget must be reduced”, and advertised the hatchet job produced by the utterly discredited Deficit Reduction Commission (of which he was a member), saying that this was the conclusion reached by “leaders from across the political spectrum”.

The defense budget does not have to be reduced, and should not be reduced. As for the hatchet job produced by the DRC – about which I’ve already written a post on this blog – it was a biased, dishonest, politically motivated report that singled out ONLY THE DOD for deep budget reductions, while allowing civilian federal agencies to skate with only minor budget cuts.

It called for a $100 bn per year reduction of defense spending, i.e. a reduction of the defense budget by almost 20%, massive cuts of equipment (modernization) spending, and cuts or closures of many crucial weapon programs, including the V-22 Osprey program (a proven rotorcraft type absolutely necessary to replace CH-46s and C-2s, to which it is vastly superior), the JLTV program, the Joint Tactical Radio program, and the F-35 program (the Marine variant would be cancelled, the orders for the Air Force and Navy variants would be reduced by half). Its recommendations would mean doom for the military. And that’s exactly what the commission wanted. Its recommendations were designed to severely weaken the military. Why? Because the vast majority of its members are strident pacifists, i.e. people IDEOLOGICALLY opposed to a strong defense. They oppose a strong defense for ideological reasons. Their recommendations were ideologically motivated.

The NTU and the PIRG have called for similar, but deeper, defense reductions, including all of the above cuts as well as the closure of the entire F-35 program (rather than a reduction of orders for F-35s) and a huge, $148.5 bn 6-year reduction of funds for DOD spare parts, which would practically mean that the DOD would not have any money to buy spare parts, which would mean that its aircraft, ships and ground vehicles would not be able to fly. In the NTU-PIRG report, similarly, the DOD was to bear the brunt of federal spending cuts, while other agencies would see their budgets shrink only by a smidgen.

Rep. Andrews lied at about 24:30 that the military budget has tripled since FY2001. It hasn’t. It hasn’t even doubled since then. In FY2001, the defense budget was (according to the Air Force Magazine and Clinton’s own defense budget request) $291.1 bn in 2000 dollars (the budget was requested, approved by the Congress, and signed into law in 2000), i.e. $368.62 bn in 2010 dollars. The FY2010 military budget was ca. $672.76 bn (a $542.76 bn base budget plus a $130 bn GWOT/OCO budget). To double since FY2001, annual defense spending would have to grow to $736 bn. To triple since FY2001, it would have to grow to over $1 trillion! It hasn’t. In FY2010 it was $672.76 bn and this FY, under the ConRes, it’s $685 bn (a $525 bn base budget plus a $160 bn GWOT supplemental). The base defense budget hasn’t even doubled (let alone tripled) in nominal terms (i.e. in dollars not adjusted for inflation).

Hey, Congressman Andrews, do the math!

Rep. Randy Forbes lied that the annual military budget is over $700 bn. It isn’t. The biggest military budget America has ever had is the current one ($685 bn). America has never had a $700 bn military budget. Not this fiscal year. Not ever.

Other opponents claim that the USMC doesn’t need to be an amphibious service and doesn’t need amphibious vehicles at all. This is false, because the USMC has been conducting amphibious assaults ever since it was established in the 1790s. Please read this: 

Rep. Johnson claimed that the DOD will have to be a part of “reducing the budget deficit”. No, it will not have to be, although, if history is any guide, Congress will likely use the Pentagon as a piggy bank to reduce the deficit created by bloated DOMESTIC spending.

If Ronald Reagan were alive today, he would’ve vehemently opposed proposals to reduce the defense budget (which is already smaller, in real and percentage-of-GDP terms alike, smaller than when he was President). As reported by Dr Kim Holmes, a Heritage Foundation expert, Reagan said to his generals, “Defense is not a budget issue. You spend what you need.”

Reducing the defense budget is neither necessary to balance the federal budget nor militarily advisable. Such a policy would weaken the military while not balancing the budget nor even significantly reducing it. Congress, please note that.


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