Why significant defense spending cuts cannot be done safely


These days, many politicians propose deep defense spending cuts, while claiming that the US can make them safely and still remain safe, or even remain the world’s strongest military player. Sec. Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, for example, are now propagating such blatant lies in defense of their boss’s indefensible, massive $500 bn defense cuts. Ron Paul proposes even deeper defense cuts, down to a defense budget of just $484 bn i.e. a microscopic 3.3% of GDP) in FY2012. Yet, they lie to the public that this can be done safely without jeopardizing America’s national security.

Don’t believe them. They’re lying.

The truth is that no significant defense spending cuts can be done safely (i.e. without jeopardizing national security).

The defense budget is not a mere book or set of spending numbers. It is not a mere warchest of money. It is not a slush fund that the DOD can use for any purpose. No, the defense budget is something quite different: a collection of defense programs that the nation wishes to pursue, and fund for the given fiscal year, with their total cost being added up (this is the defense budget topline, e.g. $526 bn for FY2012).

Behind all the numbers in the defense budget are the troops, troop health & benefit programs, installations, operation & maintenance programs, spare parts, weapon inventories, modernization programs, missile defense programs, and DOD administrative agencies needed to protect America.

Any significant defense spending cuts would mean cutting (significantly) troop numbers, weapon inventories, installations, modernization programs, missile defense programs, spare parts, O&M programs, and/or troops’ health & benefit programs, which, depending on which of these cuts would be made would mean either weakening the military (thus imperiling America) and/or breaking faith with the troops and thus discouraging them from serving.

The deeper the defense budget cuts, the deeper these programmatic and/or inventory cuts would have to be. Therefore, the more the military would be weakened, and the less secure America would be. Those are unavoidable realities. Those are facts.

All defense spending cuts have serious consequences. If someone tells you otherwise, that person is either ignorant or lying to you.

Let me illustrate for you what specific consequences would defense budget cuts entail.

For example, President Obama’s newest round of defense spending cuts (to the tune of $500 bn) will have to mean, for example, dramatic cuts to troops’ benefit programs (thus breaking faith with them), significant cuts in orders for spare parts, deep cuts in America’s already-inadequate nuclear arsenal, and/or deep cuts in missile defense programs. And that’s just one example.

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