A Smaller Defense by Design

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Although the defense budget grew by $300 billion in the decade after 9/11, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments notes that just 16 percent of that increase was earmarked for modernization—and  that a dozen new weapons systems were terminated and many systems had their numbers cut below end-strength goals (e.g., the F-22). “The aggregate effect is that a significant portion of DOD’s investment in modernization over the past decade did not result in force modernization.”

To get a sense of the modernization crisis, consider that the Air Force now plans to keep flying B-52 bombers through 2040. The first B-52 took to the skies in 1954. The CH-47 helicopter celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and the Army plans to deploy the heavy-lift chopper past 2040.

This benign neglect of the military might make sense if peace were breaking out. But we know the very opposite to be true. America is still at war in Afghanistan. Terrorist networks like al-Qaeda still have the ability to strike and are increasing their influence in the Horn of Africa and in Yemen. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is less stable and more paranoid than ever, as is nuclear-armed North Korea. Iran is racing ahead with its own nuclear-weapons program and threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. The Arab Spring revolution has triggered a civil war in Syria. What happens if/when Assad starts firing off chemical weapons? What if the revolution spreads to the oil-rich Arab monarchies? And what path will the new governments in Egypt and Libya ultimately choose?

These, it could be argued, are not even our principal worries. As the U.S. declaws itself, China is boosting military spending by 11 percent this year, capping double-digit increases in nine of the past 10 years.

According to the Pentagon’s latest report on China’s military power, Beijing is pouring increasing sums into advanced cruise missiles, conventional ballistic missiles, anti-ship missiles, counter-space weapons, cyberspace capabilities, upgrades to its bomber fleet, 79 surface combatants and 50 submarines. These assets are “designed to enable anti-access/area-denial missions.” In other words, their mission is to deter and if necessary destroy the Pacific fleet.

Similarly, Russia—in the midst of a planned 65-percent increase in military spending—is making claims in the Arctic, occupying parts of Georgia, blocking international action in Iran, providing arms and cover to Syria, buzzing North American airspace, and carrying out provocative maneuvers and weapons deployments in areas bordering NATO states. Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has unveiled plans to deploy 2,300 new tanks, 600 new warplanes, 400 new ICBMs and 28 new subs—all in the next 10 years.

So, while Beijing rapidly upgrades to a 21st-century military and Russia reloads, the Army and Marines will make do with older tanks and fewer troops; the Navy will try to stretch a 10-carrier fleet to do the work of 12 carriers; and the Air Force will get smaller and older. In fact, if the sequestration guillotine falls, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey warns of a Pentagon with “fewer options and a lot less capacity,” adding “we wouldn’t be the global power that we know ourselves to be today.”

Maybe that’s by design. It seems a smaller military may serve a larger objective for the president—namely an America that is less assertive; an America less able to act independently, and hence more deferent to and dependent on the UN; an America with fewer military resources, a shorter reach, slower reflexes and a smaller global role.

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  • dmw

    Just when we thought it was safe to go in the water…..Obama comes along! Now we'll have two Great Whites and numerous Tiger Sharks to contend with as we surrender our Killer Whale advantage, becoming a lumbering old Whale Shark on a vegetable diet ( and feeding our Navy on bio-fuels at $27 per gallon).

  • EthanP

    BHO as a disciple of Saul Alinsky is a Trojan Horse in the White House. He believes that we, the USA, are the problem. Hence the damage to our economy, our foriegn policy, and our military. He is not innept. He is a ruthless Chicago Machine politician who is doing exactly what he wants to do. And if he gets a second term and holds the senate, there will be nothing left of the Founders Republic. He's said so himself.

  • Captain America

    I agrre with some things & disagree with others. The things i agree with the author are: yes, China is building up its military power; I do believe the Chinese hav a lot more than 300 warheads, as they are building massive underground nuclear facilities. We did pull out of Iraq too fast & left Afghanistan undermanned. I also agree that the slowing of procurement of modern systems & buying less will hurt us in the long run. We need to keep investing in weapons research, not spend less to keep our technological edge.

  • Captain America

    Where i disagree is with his statements On Russia. While Putin would like a massive modernization of Russian military equipment, it's not going to happen. There isn't enough money to do it. The money he counts on is either stolen through graft & corruption, even by the military chiefs, and the oligarchs send their money to western banks just as soon as they get their hands on it. Even the militray-industrial complex is riven by graft & corruption. I have no problem with less troops. personnel costs are skyrocketing; Tricare hasn't had an increase since 1992. Retired officers can & should pay more, given that 45% of officers retire with lifetime retirement benefits.Off course, less personal means less flag officers & less promotions. But, we need less troops on the ground because we can control the ground without having boots on it. With satellites, drones, and autonomous sensors, we can keep any area under observation so bad guys can't move without us seeing them It works for Israel & it'll work for us. I f we keep developing new technology, that will be a force multiplier.

  • Jim_C

    Captain America makes sense. Heck, Don Rumsfeld was looking to shrink and reform the military–and he was right to think so. Had we not decided to nation-build in Iraq, he would have been an excellent Sec. of Defense. Instead, he might go down as one of our worst.

    I can't believe that we are sitting in the economy we've got, with the mixed results of 10 years of war that we have, and (some very silly) people are calling for war with Iran, with Syria, letting Defense continue to be a pork machine, etc. Even with cuts we will continue to have the best trained, best staffed, best equipped military in the world 10x over. We anticipated, but did not "get" the post-Cold War model on Sept. 10, 2001. We do now, And I give credit to the Bush admin. for that. What we need to do is continue to shift our model of foreign policy, get the military back to into the business of killing people and breaking things.

    And most importantly–put people back to work here in the US.

  • Ronald Johnston

    This is just further proof that osama obama is a terrorist spy and should be lined up against the wall and shot!!!

  • American Eagle

    "Maybe that’s by design."

    "maybe" ????
    Is *anything* O has done without design to break america's back (and neck)?
    (1) Fomenting and aiding the alleged Arab "spring", i.e. Islamist takeover of the midlle-east. (2) Capitulation to Russia (3) Open contempt for Israel (4) Aiding and abetting Iran on its way to Nukes (5) COddling N Korea and China (6) Destroying american economy through a thousand domestic rules and regulations and 'obamacare' and such legislations. (7) Destroying america by adopting open border policies and fighting american sovereign states in favor of illegal aliens. (8) Plotting to destroy the Second Amendment and the First Ammendment …. ah The list goes on and on …

    Like all consummate Leftists, O has global ambitions. Leftist ambitions. Which can come true only if america's back is broken, and is completely subjugated to his criminally insane ilk. Why beat around the bush? Call it like it is.