Worse, this is false economy. Readiness aside, we’re setting ourselves up for big expenses down the road when, eventually, we have to rebuild. It’s happened before: in the 1980s, after the procurement holiday of the Carter years, and again after the post-Cold War cuts of the Clinton era.
In the long run, we spend more than if we’d never made the cuts to begin with. And in the meantime, we grapple with an over-stretched military and needless vulnerabilities.
This is not to say no defense cuts can be made. Like any area of government, defense has waste that could be eliminated. But we need to start by taking a hard look at our defense programs -- in light of clearly defined priorities -- not by throwing a figure at the Pentagon and saying, in essence, “Figure it out.”
Mission first. Then cuts. That’s the only way to ensure that we both spend wisely and keep ourselves safe.