APNews’/Townhall’s false claims about defense issues


In an article supposed to function as an issue brief on defense, AP News has made (and Townhall has repeated, by republishing that “article”) many false claims, and each of them is an often made one, i.e. one with which I’m already familiar.

For starters, it claims that “President Barack Obama wants to put the brakes on growth in the defense budget” and that under his plan, defense spending will still grow over the next 5 years, just slower than previously anticipated. This is a lie. Under President Obama’s plan, defense spending will be cut in real terms over the next 5 years (and thereafter). As this CBO report proves, even without sequestration, undr Obama’s plan defense spending will be cut from $535 bn today to $521 bn in FY2013 and will not return to its current level until FY2019 – assuming that the Congress doesn’t implement any new defense cuts. If sequestration goes through, which President Obama insists on, the base defense budget will be cut to $469 bn in FY2013 and not return to its current level for over a decade (if ever). By FY2022, it will still be at barely $493 bn, $42 bn less than today.

APNews also falsely claims that the DOD’s total annual budget is currently $670 bn and that it has doubled, in dollar terms, since FY2001. This is also patently false. The FY2012 DOD budget was $645 bn ($535 bn a base defense buddget, $88.5 bn for the GWOT, and the rest for the DOE’s defense-related programs). The FY2013 budget is the same under the FY2013 Continuing Resolution passed by both houses of Congress. (If sequestration goes through, the base and GWOT budgets will be deeply cut.)

And no, the DOD budget has not DOUBLED since FY2001 budget. In FY2001, the DOD’s budget was $291.1 bn in then-year dollars, i.e. $390 bn in today’s money. The current DOD budget, as stated above, is $645 bn, i.e. 65% more than the FY2001 warchest. So while the military budget has grown significantly over the last 11 years, it hasn’t doubled. Not even close.

APNews also asks what threats should the US prepare against, and it lists a number of them, including Al Qaeda, Iran China, and Russia. The answer is that the US must be prepared against EVERY plausible threat, not just a select few. Cherry-picking potential threats and preparing the US military only against these few – whatever these few would be – would result in a poorly prepared military that can handle a few select enemies but not others. So, for example, if the US military becomes capable only of fighting terrorists, it will be unable to deter and, if necessary, defeat China, Russia, or Iran.

The fact is that the US needs a military capable of defeating EVERY plausible enemy, not just a select few.

APNews also falsely claims that only Russia has a nuclear arsenal capable of devastating the United States; thus, it implies, no other country poses such a catastrophic threat to the US. This is patently false; China also has a large nuclear arsenal and many dozens of missiles (not to mention 120-160 long range H-6 bombers) to deliver them to the US. Beijing has up to 3,000 nuclear warheads according to two independent studies by Professor Philip Karber (a former DOD nuclear weapon strategist) and former Russian missile force chief of staff Col Gen. Viktor Yesin. (Yesin says China has enough fissile material for 3,600 warheads.)

On land, China deploys 36 MIRVable DF-5A ICBMs (which it is now arming with multiple warheads), 40 MIRVable DF-31 ICBMs, and an unknown number of DF-41 multiple-warhead ICBMs, along with DF-4 single-warhead IRBMs capable fo reaching Alaska and Hawaii. Its Air Force has 120-160 H-6 long range bombers (licensed Tu-16s) armed with free-fall nuclear bombs and nuclear-capable cruise missiles. China’s navy has 5 (soon to be 6) Jin class SSBNs (each of which can carry up to 24 JL-2 SLBMs, with 4 warheads each) and one Xia class SSBN with 12 single-warhead JL-1 SLBMs, as well as a conventional Golf class ballistic missile submarine which currently serves as a test platform for the JL-2 SLBM.

All in all, China can deliver well over a thousand nuclear warheads to the US. As China equips its DF-31s with multiple wrheads, produces more DF-41 ICBMs, and builds more SSBNs, its nuclear delivery capacity will grow even further.

So the threats to America are far graver than APNews admits, and America must be prepared to deter and defeat ANY plausible adversary. And AMerica’s military budget is lower, and has not grown nearly as quickly, as APNews claims.

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