Monday, April 06, 2009

Budget Cuts Coming For Defense Department

The Obama Administration is wasting no time in listing programs it would love to cut in the Defense Department, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has prepared the list for the Administration. Top among those programs to be cut are the F-22 fighter and C-17 transport. Also to be cut are the airborne laser program, the Marine VH-71 presidential helicopter program, and the Future Combat Systems, which is an Army program to integrate combat systems all across the battlefield..

While the media is going to focus on the C-17 and F-22 program cuts and eliminations, I'm more concerned about the possible reduction in carrier task forces beyond the number already in active service.

Obama cutting weapons systems may make sense if they're going to dedicate more money to other needed weapons programs or to prepare for other combat scenarios.

That isn't going to be the case, as the cuts are literally all over the place and cut programs large and small.

These program cuts are going to affect military preparedness is ways large and small. They're going to make US forces more susceptible to danger from new technologies being deployed by our enemies (and they're out there and testing the US at every turn). They're going to make the US more reliant on older systems, like older transport aircraft and combat aircraft, which are nearly the end of their useful lives.

Heck, the biggest stimulus package could have been achieved through a significant weapons buildup since guess who could benefit from the defense expenditures on planes and tanks and Humvees - the unions via GM, Chrysler, GD, Boeing, and Lockheed. Instead, we get porkfest and a gutted military.

Worst of all is the idea that we're going to cut the number of active carriers still further. Time was, the US wouldn't do with less than 14 active carriers. Now we're facing the possibility of fewer than 10? There are more threats, and more demands in more places around the planet, and Obama's looking to cut carrier task forces as a cost saving measure? Indeed every President since FDR has wanted to know where the carriers are should a crisis arise, and here the Administration is looking to cut the carrier fleet even further?

How many lives will be lost as a result of that decision. All you have to do is think back to the SE Asian quake/tsunami and know that it was US Navy carrier task forces that were on scene and providing aid faster than anyone else, and lives were saved through the hard work and dedication of our sailors and Marines. That would not be possible if we scale back our carrier numbers, and it means that enemies like China, who are announcing that they've got new weapons to attack carriers from standoff distances, would have an even greater advantage.

At a time when China is announcing that they've got new capabilities to take out US aircraft carriers and surface ships, we're signaling that we're going to drop their numbers even further?

At a time when the number of threats is rising and countries like North Korea are openly flouting and ignoring UN resolutions by carrying out missile tests, we're canning airborne laser systems designed to take out those kinds of threats?

These are bad policy choices and the result of an Administration that would rather remake the US as a far weaker version of itself that is incapable of waging war overseas. After all, if you have an army but have no way of deploying it, you can't start wars (or finish them).

Of course, if you've been paying attention to the Democratic party for the past decade, you'd know that they were looking to cut the military wherever possible. Now, they've got the knives out and are looking to carve up the capabilities at a time when our enemies are probing to see what we're made of.

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