The CNAS report is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke

The leftist “Center for a New American Security”, founded by people who are now Obama Administration officials and staffed by extreme leftists, has recently released a new pamphlet arguing for massive defense cuts on top of all the cuts already administered.

Their report is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke. Its place is in the dustbin.

It ridiculously claims that the US can afford to cut its core defense budget by $550 billion over the next ten years and still remain “the dominant superpower.” This is a blatant lie. Common sense alone can tell you that with the US military still fighting two wars, and with the vast majority of its equipment being obsolete and worn out and needing replacement, the US can’t afford to cut defense spending further.

But it’s not just common sense that tells you that. If you read the specifics, you’ll see that implementing their recommendations would indeed wreck the US military, render it decrepit, and make the US a second-rate military player, not a superpower, let alone the dominant superpower.

Just a few illustrative examples:

  • The CNAS recommends the cancellation or closure of a wide range of crucial, necessary modernization programs, including the F-35 JSF (America’s only remaining 5th generation fighterplane program, absolutely necessary to replace the obsolete aircraft of three services) and the V-22 Osprey, a combat-proven, cost-effective, survivable multimission rotorcraft that can serve as a troop transport, Carrier Onboard Delivery plane, and a CSAR platform. It costs only 67 mn dollars per copy and has been proven in three combat theaters: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Cutting or closing these crucial modernization programs would render the US military ill-equipped and unable to fight, let alone win.
  • The CNAS calls for cutting the Navy’s carrier fleet further, from 11 vessels to just 10 (which would mean just 9 after the Enterprise retires before the USS Gerald R. Ford enters service). A 10 carrier fleet would be inadequate with all the tasks that the US Navy must do. Multiple studies by credible analysts and organizations (as opposed to the leftist CNAS) say that the Navy must, at all times, have no fewer than 11 carriers. For a good reason, Congress wrote this requirement into law, and only in 2010 did it reluctantly waive that requirement for the Enterprise-Ford interim period. A 10 carrier fleet would mean that no more than 7, and perhaps only 6, carriers would be ready for duty at any given time.
  • The CNAS furthermore calls on huge force structure reductions in other parts of the military, for example, for cutting the Army and the Marine Corps to their pre-9/11 size (480,000 and 175,000 active duty servicemembers, respectively). It was widely recognized even before 9/11 that this force structure was inadequate. It will be inadequate even after the Afghan war ends. Remember that the US has a long southern border to protect.
  • The CNAS furthermore lectures us about “prioritizing” and claims that prioritizing, as well as withdrawing from Europe and the Middle East, can bring about significant savings while still leaving the US as the “dominant superpower.” This is garbage. Firstly, withdrawing troops from foreign countries would cost significantly more money than keeping them where they are because one would have to build bases for them in the US, whereas the bases they currently use are funded by America’s allies. Secondly, prioritizing, while necessary to do, is no panacea. Prioritizing, in and of itself, is not enough – not even close. Even if the US adopts the right priorities, it will still need to spend an adequate amount of money on defense, have a very large military, and buy large quantities of new weapons. Prioritizing is no substitute for a large military, adequate modernization programs, or an adequate defense budget. Even if the US adopts the right priorities, it won’t be a military superpower if it doesn’t invest sufficiently in defense.
  • The CNAS says that the Navy and Air Force – or rather, naval and aerial assets – should be prioritized over ground troops. That is arguably the right path, but the problem with the CNAS’s report is that it calls for cutting the entire military – especially the Navy and the Air Force – so badly that they wouldn’t be able to defend the US, so shifting emphasis to them would not be an option.
  • The CNAS claims that the US can afford to cut its defense budget by $550 billion over the next ten years and still remain “the dominant superpower”, but that any cuts beyond that amount “could severely undermine military capabilities.” Here’s evidence from the report itself that its internally inconsistent and that implementing its recommendations would significantly weaken the military. So, according to the CNAS, whacking the defense budget by 550 billion dollars is perfectly okay, but cutting it any further beyond that would weaken the military? Ridiculous. The truth is that the defense cuts they propose would already wreck the military by themselves, and cutting defense even further would do further damage.
  • Their “report” is clearly just another liberal defense cut proposal masquerading as a proposal of a responsible drawdown, as evidenced by the fact that it seeks to constrain America’s foreign and defense policy, including the size and modernization programs of the US military, in accordance with budgetary limitations, not in accordance with the global security environment and America’s actual defense needs. A prudent defense policymaker never does that. He first looks at the world and identifies all threats to the US and its key allies, then determines what exactly must be done to counter these threats (e.g. what weapons and troops, and in what numbers, are needed, where do they need to be deployed, which allies should the US support, and how, how to fight the enemy if war breaks out, etc.), then determines what exact programs and units are needed, in what numbers and how much to invest in them, and then what the total cost of all of that would be (that’s the defense budget topline). On the other hand, the CNAS would, if it had its way, cut the defense budget deeply, down to an arbitrary limit, and constrain the US military and America’s foreign policy to that limit, meaning the US could never do anything beyond it. That is unacceptable and wrong. The CNAS got the process exactly backwards. This ridiculous logic proves that the CNAS folks, including the authors of the report, know absolutely nothing about defense issues.
  • They call their report “hard choices”. Their recommendations, however, are more than hard choices: they are arbitrary, unjustifiable defense cuts which would wreck the military. For them, “hard choices” mean defense cuts. Such “hard choices” must never be imposed on the DOD.

In short, the CNAS report is a ridiculous screed. It is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke. Not a serious person would even seriously take that report, let alone endorse it.


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