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  • Providing for the Common Defense: The First Duty of the "Supercommittee"

    Members of Congress, prominent military and veterans affairs experts, and Tea Party representatives raised concerns that further cuts to the U.S. military would do irreparable damage to national security, during an event sponsored by the Coalition for a Common Defense on Capitol Hill. The event took place amidst the growing chorus of Administration officials and experts raising red flags about further cuts to the U.S. military.

    The chorus is growing because if the congressional “supercommittee” does not reach an agreement on deficit reduction by November 23, there will be huge defense cuts. The committee, created by The Budget Control Act of 2011, was charged with finding $1.5 trillion in budget savings over 10 years. If it fails, the law triggers automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion, of which roughly half a trillion or more would come from defense. The defense budget is already scheduled to be cut by $465 billion over the next 10 years. Taken together, total defense cuts would be more than $1 trillion. And it is worth noting that even if the committee comes to an agreement, it may involve targeted cuts roughly equivalent to the trigger amount.

    Speakers said “enough is enough”—the budget cannot be balanced on the back of the U.S. military. Even if defense spending were taken to zero, it wouldn’t solve the problem.

    Members of Congress cited the recent House Armed Services Committee Assessment of Impacts on Budget Cuts (HASC Report) that details the consequences of the potential cuts. A sampling includes:

    • They will jeopardize the Marine Corps role as the expeditionary force in ready, leading to the smallest force in 50 years.
    • They will take the Army below pre-9/11 troop levels.
    • They will leave the Air Force with two-thirds fewer fighters and strategic bombers than in 1990.
    • The Navy, which stabilizes global commercial and energy flows, will lose at least two carrier battle groups and shrink to 238 ships—smaller than pre-WWI levels.

    Congressman Doug Lamborn (R–CO), a member of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee, said that under these cuts, the U.S. nuclear Triad—the land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs), strategic bomber, and Trident submarine force—may be reduced to a Diad. As the U.S. nuclear deterrent shrinks and loses credibility, some of the 31 countries that enjoy protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella may consider going nuclear out of growing fears about their vulnerability. This would be extremely destabilizing and could lead to costly conflicts. Lamborn pointed out that the cuts would also cause significant delays to the President’s own Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense, impairing America’s ability to protect and defend against a ballistic missile attack.

    Representative J. Randy Forbes (R–VA), chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, said that for American to be great, it must have a strong economy and a strong military. If you begin to unravel one, you begin to unravel the other. Amidst existing and potential adversaries gaining military strength, he expressed concerns about people’s willingness to cut defense budgets and resources without having clear guidance on strategy first: “If I’m trying to defend a nation, I better start with a strategy and say, ‘What’s the strategy I need to defend this country?’” The inclination among many today is exactly the opposite.

    Forbes announced a resolution for which he will be seeking support. It emphasizes the importance of defense and says, “Enough is enough”—no more cuts to the military. He closed by saying, “I don’t want [our soldiers] to be in a fair fight; I want them to be in a fight we know they can win.”

    Congressman Trent Franks (R–AZ), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, reminded the audience of the lessons of history. He pointed out how the hollow force in the post–Vietnam era led to the disastrous military debacle dubbed Desert One. A myopic focus on the financial situation in the 1930s led to underfunding the U.S. military; as a result, the U.S. was ill-prepared for World War II.

    Franks closed by pointing out that when two airplanes hit two buildings in New York, it cost the nation’s economy $2 trillion. He raised the question: If the U.S. had spent just a little bit more money on intelligence and military resources beforehand, might 9/11 have been just another day?

    The message from the speakers was clear: More defense cuts will place the future of U.S. national security at grave risk and all but invite future conflict.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Providing for the Common Defense: The First Duty of the "Supercommittee"

    1. West Texan says:

      I don't doubt Reid's senate majority, Pelosi's house minority and Obama's oval office feel the military can function with nothing more than special operatives and robotic drones. After all, these capabilities proved effective against leaders of an asymmetric foe. This means more cash for these three stooges' social progressive monstrosities, which is priority number 1 for them. Crony capitalism comes next followed by Defense as a distant third. To say such an upside down agenda is headed for disaster is a gross understatement.

    2. @swiftwolf says:

      Looks like we are heading for the Isolationist stupidity again like before world war two, and what did that get us? If we had reacted and joined with England when Hitler first started his aggressiveness he could have been easily defeated and contained and all the loss of life and damage done to Europe and England could have been mostly avoided. We are opening ourselves up to being attacked again, and our way of life disappearing as we slide down the slippery slope that Greece as traveled down into bankruptcy.

    3. Bobbie says:

      Providing for the common defense is the first duty of the supercommittee? That's the sole duty of the feds, PERIOD! What an unfair added burden to the people of this country. Can't even follow expectations and beggars to want more money? OUCH, it's hurting! Do Your Job! Provide for the common defense and get rid of everything that interferes!

    4. Brian says:

      Which are the "…31 countries that enjoy protection under the U.S. nuclear umbrella…" and how much do they pay the US for their protection? Or is it the responsibility of the US taxpayer to pay for their protection?

      • Mike, Wichita Falls says:

        Good question. Do we have a treaty with these countries that obligates us to protect them in exchange for some funding? However, even if we don't have a treaty, do we want them to have nukes that may fall into the wrong hands?

        At one time, simply having nukes was a deterrent; now the deterrent is "Who has more?"

    5. Carol Bee says:

      Why has it taken people so long to realize what has been happening ever since President Obama took office. The ONLY department that has had its budget cut has been the Defense Department, while others like the EPA have had their budgets dramatically increased.

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Imagine, if you can, John Kerry or Patty Murray agreeing on any Republican suggestion. Yet this is who Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi chose to sit on this disgrace know as the "super committee". The really disturbing fact is that the gutless Republicans caved to the Dems when they agreed to this "trigger" to
      cut a half trillion from the defense budget when, not if, the committee does not reach any agreement.
      That's exactly the true intentions of Obama and the Dems in the first place. Another prime example of
      the total incompetence of the old, established GOP and more reason for a third political party.

    7. Kevin says:

      If you think the largest military budget in the world is worth keeping, the support tax increases to pay for it. Using PPP as an indicator (this is the measure of GNP that inflates the value of less developed countries), the US military spends more than the next six countries combined on defense. The US military budget as a percentage of GNP is larger than any other large county as well. Shouldn't a country like the US, with no rivals on its borders (unless you count sparely populated Siberia as a rival), and with no threat of invasion be paying less as a percentage of its GNP on defense than countries like South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan?
      http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spen

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