During a Nov. 16th, 2011 hearing on USMC modernization programs, Congressman Bartlett falsely claimed that the US spends „almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined and more than the next 11 countries combined” and that the US cannot balance its budget without defense cuts and that there are some who say that further defense cuts, on top of those already ordered by Obama, are needed, and that another issue that needs to be reviewed is whether the US should continue to spend as much as it spends on defense while European countries underfunding their defense.
This is garbage.
Firstly, the US does NOT spend as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. The SIPRI says that America’s military budget for FY2011 (688 bn), the last year for which the SIPRI currently has data, amounted to 42.8% of the world total. America’s FY2012 military budget, 645 bn, is even smaller and accounts for an even smaller share of the world total.
Secondly, the US CAN and MUST balance its budget without defense cuts. The Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have both shown how. The budget plans of both organizations would balance the federal budget by FY2020 without any defense cuts. And of all plans reviewed by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the HF’s plan cuts federal spending, debt, and taxes the most.
Thirdly, the claim that further defense cuts on top of those already ordered by Obama are necessary is a blatant lie. As has been stated above, the US CAN and MUST balance its budget without defense cuts. The Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have both shown how. The budget plans of both organizations would balance the federal budget by FY2020 without any defense cuts. Moreover, civilian spending (entitlements and discretionary spending) are so high that the budget could be balanced solely with cuts in these categories (and with tax revenue from a revived economy, if it is revived). No defense cuts are necessary. Furthermore, those calling for additional defense cuts are ignoring the fact that the DOD has already contributed far too much to deficit reduction, and has contributed far more than any other government agency, while other government departments and agencies have contributed little to nothing (for example, in the last 3 years, the budget of the Department of State has more than doubled while entitlements have been growing, and continue to grow, on autopilot). Furthermore, they are ignoring the detrimental effects that any further defense cuts would have on a military that is already excessively trained, too small, and forced to make to with obsolete, worn out equipment as the Nation continues to enjoy the 23rd year of its procurement holiday. Here is Heritage Foundation expert Mackenzie Eaglen (guest-writing on the AEI’s blog) on the dire material state of the US Navy today:
„At the same time as the Obama administration is heralding a strategic “pivot” towards Asia and the growing threat of Chinese military modernization, the U.S. Navy continues to put on a brave face in the middle of a growing readiness crisis. While not new, this alarming trend was highlighted again this week when Navy officials announced that, for the second time in seven months, the USS Essex, a Marine Corps amphibious assault ship, has failed to meet a commitment at sea due to equipment failure or maintenance issues.
The Navy’s No. 2 wasn’t understating the problem when he told Congress last year: “The stress on the force is real. And it has been relentless.”
This is not an isolated occurrence. A high operational tempo over the past decade has put an incredible strain upon all of America’s military. As fewer ships spend less time at home making repairs, regular wear and tear takes a heavy toll. In fact, in 2011, nearly one-quarter of the entire surface fleet failed inspection. The Navy has 22 cruisers in service and every one of them has cracks in the aluminum superstructure. Meanwhile, half of the Navy’s deployable aircraft are not combat ready and engines aboard two F/A-18s have caught fire aboard ships underway.
While the Navy has shrunk by 15 percent since 1998, it has deployed a relatively constant number of ships at sea at any given time. Between two major wars in the Middle East, a third in Libya, anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, disaster relief in Asia, and maritime deterrence in the Western Pacific, the U.S. military has increasingly been asked to do more with less.
The USS Essex was supposed to take part in Cobra Gold—a joint exercise with Thailand—before it had to back out due to mechanical problems. In many ways, this incident can be seen as a metaphor for the entire shift to Asia. On paper, it sounds like a smart and forward-thinking policy—it even involves allies and burden-sharing. What’s not to love?
But without the proper resources, Cobra Gold, as well as the larger “pivot” and its supposed emphasis on air and naval power, is just a paper tiger.”
There should not be any more defense cuts, and those that have been made should be reversed completely.