Although any Member of Congress should be praised for outlining concrete ways to reduce spending, Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) “Back in Black” plan to cut $1 trillion from the defense budget — in part by slashing investment in superior technologies that safeguard our troops — is a nonstarter for our national security.
It’s not that defense shouldn’t be cut — it already has been cut. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates squeezed $178 billion in cuts and efficiencies from the DOD last year and slashed $300 billion in modernization programs in 2009. Today, the defense budget accounts for just 16 percent of the federal spending — a historical wartime low since World War II.
Only a quarter of defense spending is dedicated to replacing equipment and developing new technologies. After a decade of war in the Middle East, gear built during the Cold War has either been destroyed or worn out. Mission-capable rates for aging aircraft and vehicles are plummeting.
America’s military dominance springs from technological superiority — using the world’s best fighter jets to secure the airspace and non-line-of-sight missiles to precisely attack targets without risking soldiers’ lives. If we fail to invest in next-generation replacements for aging military equipment, we’ll soon face “fairer fights,” which mean more U.S. casualties.
Everyone supports deficit reduction, but no one supports cuts that will hollow out our military capability and endanger our troops.
— Col. Eric Rojo (U.S. Army, retired), director of homeland security at Integrated Infrastructure Analytics Inc.