In the past year, Russia’s defense spending has risen 34 percent. China’s defense spending has risen 15 percent. Within the past four months, Iran and North Korea have tested missiles that could someday carry warheads to Europe or the United States.
With such conventional and asymmetric military capabilities rising around the world, what is the Obama Administration’s plan? To decrease overall defense spending, including on critical programs such as the F-22 stealth fighter, even though the U.S. Air Force has stated up to 60 more F-22s would be needed to maintain air superiority against Russian and Chinese fighters; development of the Navy’s next generation cruiser; and missile defense. Such decisions will affect our ability to protect the homeland and our allies from threats we can predict and those we cannot.
As Heritage vice president Kim Holmes explains in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun, decreasing military spending in the face of rising international threats is risky business. It is based on a false dichotomy: that the U.S. must “take care of people, reset the force, win the wars we are in” at the expense of developing technologies and capabilities to defend us in future wars.
If Congress approves Secretary Gates’ proposed budget for 2010, total defense spending will begin falling below the benchmark of 4 percent of gross domestic product, a level that many believe is needed to field a military force capable of defending the U.S. against both predictable and unpredictable threats. History shows we can afford it.