Cutting defense spending would always be a dumb mistake. Ignoring this fact, the ideological opponents of defense spending, led by the slimy, unshaved senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, they’re constantly calling for defense spending cuts to “balance the budget”. Fortunately, some cooler heads are warning them to back off.
During a HASC hearing on the DoN’s budget, Rep. Todd Akin said that America’s budget problems cannot be solved by defense spending cuts and that it would be unwise. (http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/hearings?ContentRecord_id=790b0fed-12a0-4705-b5d6-bee09c0c435b&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=13e47ffa-0753-47a7-ad5e-1ba7592015c9, 1:08)
Last year, now-Chairman of the Strategic Troops Subcommittee of the HASC, Congressman Mike Turner, warned against defense spending cuts.
The Heritage Foundation has warned that defense spending cuts, no matter how deep, will not balance the budget nor even significantly contribute to a balanced budget. (http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/28/cutting-defense-cant-balance-the-budget/)
Yet the most unexpected supporter of defense spending is Congressman J. Randy Forbes (GOP-VA-04), who, on May 19th, 2010, published this release:
“Forbes: National Security Needs, Not Budget Pressure, Should Influence Defense Decisions
Washington, May 19, 2010 – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) announced that he intends to offer an amendment to the annual defense policy bill this evening during the House Armed Services Committee markup to ensure that Department of Defense decision-making is being driven by an assessment of security needs rather than budget constraints.
“There is a simple truth outlined in our Constitution that says one of the primary roles of Congress is ‘to raise and support Armies’ and ‘to provide and maintain a Navy.’ This command is unparalleled in its importance – it is the only type of federal spending mandated by the Constitution. Yet, over the past two years, budget pressure from increasing federal spending on non-defense issues has led to an expanding federal debt and caused the budget to frame our defense strategy,” said Forbes. “There is a concern that strategic military documents, like the Quadrennial Defense Review, are being driven by budget constraints rather than actual national security needs.”
According to law, a Quadrennial Defense Review’s (QDR) purpose is to “delineate a national defense strategy consistent with the most recent national security strategy” and should be established without constraints from the budget. Forbes’ amendment further strengthens the guidance of title 10 of the United States Code to state that recommendations of the QDR “will not be influenced, constrained, or informed by the budget.”
“Now more than ever, with various threats growing around the world, it is important that we make certain that critical strategic military documents, like the QDR, are developed outside of the influence of the budget. National security needs – not budget pressure – should be influencing our nation’s strategic defense decisions,” said Forbes.
Congressman Forbes is Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee.”
Congressman Forbes cannot be called a supporter of a bloated defense budget. He has been critical of the DOD, its spending habits, and its failure to comply with the law (which requires it to submit annual, auditible financial statements as well as Shipbuilding Plans and Aviation Plans); he has grilled DOD officials with hard questions during HASC hearings; and he has managed to convince the Congress to pass an amendment reducing the SECDEF’s party budget by $2 mn to force him to comply with the law.
Yet he opposes defense spending cuts and says that the military’s needs should drive defense budgets, not vice versa – something that defense opponents are yet to learn.
Ignoring these facts, the New York Slimes’ editors, in a recent editorial, have called for deep defense spending cuts and the closure of dozens of crucial weapon programs it has wrongly called “Cold War relics”. Among the programs they branded “Cold War relics” was… the Virginia class submarine program, which didn’t even exist on paper during the Cold War. The Virginia class submarine program was devised in the 1990s (the late 1990s IIRC) by the Clinton Administration (yes, the NYT’s beloved Clinton Administration) as a cheap alternative to the last submarine class designed during the Cold War – the Seawolf class. The the lead ship of the class, the USS Virginia (SSN-774), was ordered in 1998, laid down on September 2nd, 1999, launched on 16th August 2003, and commissioned on October 12th, 2004. It’s not a Cold War relic, it’s a 21st-century submarine program.
The Virginia class was developed with a totally different threat environment, set of war theaters, and required capabilities portfolio assumed. The Virginia class can fight in the littorals and deploy Navy SEALs – which Cold War era submarines cannot do (because Cold War administrations assumed they would not need to do this). The Virginia class can do not only the traditional missions of a hunter submarine (which it does better than any other class), it can also fight against terrorists, launch UAVs and UUVs, deploy Navy SEALs, and fight in the littorals. It was designed for a wide range of diverse war theaters which didn’t exist, and were not assumed, during the Cold War. So the New York Slimes editors lied.