ICYMI: Across-the-board cuts disarm nation's defense
| Mar 29 2012
March 29, 2012
We joined earlier this year to introduce a bill that replaces the across-the-board cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act — cuts to both defense and nondefense programs — with more responsible savings.
While these across-the-board cuts won’t take full effect for another nine months, our national security and military already have been undermined.
This is far more than some far-off problem, to be confronted later. As a top defense official recently suggested, the cuts are making the military’s difficult task of defense planning even more complicated by preventing the Pentagon from knowing exactly what resources will be available.
Indeed, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said such cuts would lead to, “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest air force in … [U.S.] history.” Panetta also correctly characterized the cuts as a “meat ax” approach, because they’re not just deep — they also slice indiscriminately across the board, and it’s not as though the military can simply purchase 5/6 of a ship or a submarine.
We all agree that the Defense Department must eliminate wasteful programs and continue to find efficiencies; however, our defense policy is becoming less about military strategy and more about fiscal strategy. Officials are forced to align resources to reflect arbitrary budget numbers rather than actual threats confronting the United States.
Moreover, preserving American freedom depends on our ability to protect economic and security interests around the globe. Yet some of our most fundamental missions and critical alliances are now threatened. Our enemies — who welcome a weakened U.S. with a smaller military, aging equipment and uncertain capabilities — are growing emboldened, sensing our diminished ability to respond effectively.
When we meet with visiting allies, many officials now despair that the looming cuts have encouraged our adversaries. In particular, they often cite Iran, which has moved rapidly ahead in pursuit of nuclear weapons.
U.S. servicemen and women are our nation’s finest, and we can’t maintain our global military edge without them. This edge is also sustained by a robust U.S. defense industrial base, which leads the world in technology and innovation. These looming cuts are a “huge disruption,” according to industry leaders, that are “already having a chilling effect” — forcing defense companies to make difficult choices. Businesses are becoming increasingly unable to hire workers, train employees or invest in research and development. And with these cuts scheduled to take effect three months into the fiscal year, companies will be forced to break many current contracts — something that is both costly and highly inefficient.
We need predictability to reverse this trend and defend our national security — another reason it is so critical to undo these harmful cuts.
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