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The Defense budget

Posted Monday, January 9, 2012, at 4:27 PM

How many of us would like to see a meat clever taken to the national budget? What about the defense budget?

This week, Barack Obama announced cuts to the defense budget of around $450 billion.

The United States has the largest defense budget in the world. It is larger than any two other national combined.

Moreover, our allies in Europe and Asia have fairly small defense establishments because they rely on us to protect them. Shouldn't we be able to slash defense spending and make others do their fair share?

No.

Why does defense cost so much? Is it those $800 hammers?

The United States presently has nine nuclear powered aircraft carriers patrolling the seas with three more under construction. Three oil-powered carriers are in "ready reserve."

The U.S. also has a sizeable fleet of nuclear submarines containing both "boomers" and attack craft. The number of active subs is not readily available to the public. Each of these vessels cost billions.

We also have the only squadrons of stealth fighters and bombers in the world. Among conventional aircraft, the F14, F15, F16 and F18 are also the best in the world in their classes.

Moreover, I doubt if there is anyone who can currently compete with our fleet of (aging) B52s. Each of these aircraft cost tens to hundreds of millions.

It is rumored that the Hubble Telescope is a spy satellite designed to look out into space rather than down onto the ground. We have the best remote intelligence gathering infrastructure on Earth. One can only imagine the cost of satellites.

We also have a substantial inventory of ICBMs and are the only nation on Earth to have an anti-missile defense system.

Military strategy has changed little since Sun Tzu wrote, "The Art of War," roughly 2,500 years ago. The biggest change was learned during World War II that to control the land and sea, you must first control the air.

To ensure both victory and deterrence, we must control space and the air, we must control the seas, and there must be men with rifles to hold ground.

So where do we cut? Whenever a weapon system is deployed, the next generation is already in development.

If we just stand pat, others will catch up. Then, how many years will it take to get the process rolling again?

It takes many, many years to develop new aircraft, missiles, ships, even the next generation of rifles.

Is there fraud and waste in the military industrial complex? Definitely, yes. But tell me what part of the government doesn't? That is not an excuse, but it is a fact of life going back to the Pharos and beyond.

I can't think of a single American that hasn't had a belly full of war. This is especially true among those who serve in uniform and their families. But in a world where no place is too remote, peace is only achieved through strength. Would be aggressors will be deterred if they are convinced they cannot win.

It is unfortunate that every generation must learn the horrors of war first hand, but we cannot change that or any other part of human nature.

The single most important obligation of any nation is to reserve itself and protect its inhabitants. That means having a significant military. If you want to enjoy the benefits of being a super power, you had better have the best military. While the budget needs to be slashed, it seems to me that our 240-plus year constitutional obligation to protect and defend should be cut last and those programs that have existed for less than 50 years should be cut first.



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