Congress should pass a defense budget NOW


Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

America’s enemies are arming themselves to the teeth, and yet Congress, instead of passing an appropriately-sized defense budget, is mulling a significantly smaller one, or a new Continuing Resolution, both of which would be bad for the military. (The House’s preferred option right now is a ConRes which would provide significantly less funding for the military than what the President requested for FY2011.) Says DefenseNews (quoted by AT):

It will be tough to find the money to reach the Navy’s goal of 313 warships, Gates told the House Armed Services Committee on Feb. 16. He questioned whether the Air Force would be able to afford new aerial re­fueling planes, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a new bomber in the mid-2020s. Although House lawmakers introduced a new 2011 defense spending measure on Feb. 11, [Defense Comptroller Robert] Hale said the Pentagon is “concerned that the funding levels in that bill are quite low,” even though the top line is higher than the continuing resolution.”

An army marches on its stomach. A strong military requires robust funding. Hence, the DOD needs a core budget of at least $540 bn to maintain a viable military for the duration of FY2011.

Yet, the Congress is mulling significantly smaller amounts, which would be detrimental for America’s defense. Such defense spending cuts would not, however, placate the ideological opponents of defense spending, such as those utterly-discredited libertarian and liberal leaders whose lies were debunked on this blog in December. Nor wold they significantly reduce the budget deficit. They would., however, sabotage the DOD’s weapon programs, as stated by Secretary Gates.

The Congress is behaving extremely irresponsibly.

Meanwhile, according to US intel, China is arming itself to the teeth and wants its AF to become the predominant AF in the world today. According to DefenseNews and AT’s own William R. Hawkins:

“This week, the Pentagon’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) published a study of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) predicting it will it “one of the world’s foremost air forces by 2020” and is working to “extend its reach and its lethality.” The PLAAF is striving to become “a strategic air force” with missions beyond the defense of the homeland. It will be able to “shape the future operational environment in the Asia-Pacific region and, perhaps one day, even beyond” according to the NASIC.   
The NASIC study is not yet available to the public, but Defense News obtained an advance copy. In its Feb. 21 issue, Wendell Minnick reports,
 
 

 

The PLAAF has traditionally been asked to concentrate solely on the defense of Chinese territory but is now also being asked to pro­tect Chinese interests beyond its borders. Since the 1990s, China has largely shaped its modernization ef­forts around Taiwan, but the PLAAF is beginning to look at sce­narios involving Japan, India and the South China Sea.”

 

If, however, the Congress does pass an appropriately-sized defense budget for FY2011 and for further FYs, this threat can be mitigated even despite the closure of the F-22 program (which was a mistake). How? By:
 1) Upgrading all F-15s with AN/APG-82 AESA radars so that they can detect and shoot down enemy aircraft;
 2) Upgrading all F-15s to the F-15SE (Silent Eagle) standard;

 3) Ordering additional 572 F-35As to replace, in the long term, all legacy fighterplanes that would otherwise retire unreplaced (including all F-15s).

 An F-15 is an old, but nonetheless still capable fighterplane with a huge radar in its nose and enough hardpoints for 8-11 air-to-air missiles. If upgraded with a 21st century AN/APG-82 AESA radar and upgraded to the F-15SE standard (conformal weapons bays, stealthy coatings, canted vertical fins), it could be almost as stealthy (invisible) to other fighterplans as a J-20 or a PAKFA, and would be equipped with a radar to detect and track them.

 An F-15SE is not an alternative to an F-22 or an F-35, but could complement both types of aircraft. F-22s and F-15SEs working in tandem could defeat any adversaries and reattain air superiority for the US, and maintain it for a few decades at least.

 The Heritage Foundation reports that the ConRes recently passed by the House (HR1) would not only be legally restrictive for the DOD, making it impossible to jumpstart new programs, expand existing ones, and sign many kinds of contracts, it would also sabotage existing programs, delay them, and grow their costs. And the level of funding provided by it would be dramatically insufficient – $16 bn less than what the President requested for FY2011. It represents $16 bn of the $74 bn discretionary spending cut that HR1 calls for.

 As a result, orders for many weapon types would be dramatically reduced to inadequate levels, there would not be enough funding to maintain existing weapons nor to modernize them, nor would there be enough money to start new programs such as a tanker replacement program. The full Heritage Foundation Report is available here:

 http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/02/Defense-Cuts-in-FY-2011-Would-Hurt-Troops

The Appropriations Committee has lied about the FY2011 CR (HR1). It has claimed that:

“The CR contains the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011. The legislation includes $516.2 billion in base funding for the Department of Defense, a 2.8 percent reduction from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request, and an $8.1 billion, or 1.6 percent, increase over last year’s level. This common-sense funding level strikes a balance between the need for valid reductions and the requirements of our military without jeopardizing our national defense or the protection of our troops.”

These claism are blatant lies. There can be no valid reductions of the defense budget, and there is no need for any such reductions. Defense spending reductions are neither needed nor desirable. The amount of base funding for the DOD it would provide ($516.2 bn) would not be a “common-sense funding level”, it would be a stupid, ridiculous, vastly inadequate funding level. It would be $32.8 bn LOWER than what the President requested for FY2011, and it would dramatically weaken the US military. This would be the smallest defense budget (in real terms) since FY2009. The DOD needs no less than $540 bn for FY2011 to execute its mission. By making such a deep defense spending cut, the Congress would jeopardize America’s defense and American troops. This CR would fall far short of the genuine requirements of the US military. Hal Rodgers should be dismissed as Chairman of the Appropriations Cmte., which should be merged with the Budget Cmte.

There must be NO defense spending cuts. They are absolutely unacceptable. They would weaken the military and thus imperil the country, while not significantly reducing the annual budget deficit.

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