In a recent article in National Review, Heritage distinguished fellow and former Senator Jim Talent (R–MO) explains that the U.S. military is facing a troubling future.
Talent describes how “every category of primary risk to American security is growing.” China is displaying increasing boldness in defense of its disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea. North Korea’s threats are more aggressive than ever. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is active and gaining influence. Iran continues to advance its nuclear capabilities. It is hard to see an end to the conflict in Syria, and there is potential for instability to spread to the rest of the region.
To deter these myriad threats and maintain security, the armed forces require the equipment, manpower, and training to sustain a global presence, collect intelligence, support alliances, and project power when necessary. These capabilities are in danger. There have been several significant cuts to the defense budget since 2009, and acquisition plans have been repeatedly canceled or delayed since then. Much-needed modernization programs were also canceled in 2009, augmenting the need for new equipment.
An independent panel in 2010 evaluated the Defense Department’s capabilities and strategy, finding a “‘mismatch,’ dating back to the end of the Cold War, between the missions that the military has been expected to perform and its size and strength.” The budget shortfall since then has only made a bad situation worse.
There is no doubt that federal spending cuts need to be made for the fiscal well-being of the U.S., and there is plenty of waste in the military that can and should be eliminated. But funding a strong national defense is necessary to protect American sovereignty and interests. Congress should work to restore necessary security funding so the U.S. armed forces can fulfill their mission to protect and defend the American people.
Genevieve Syverson is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.