At this writing, many details of the debt ceiling deal wrangled out over the weekend remain fuzzy. One thing is clear, unfortunately: The national security of the United States is going to suffer greatly.
That will be so no matter how much is taken out of the defense budget as a result of the not-so-grand bargain struck by congressional leaders. If approved by both houses, it would reportedly cut $350 billion from "security" spending as part of a first tranche of deficit-reduction. Then, the Pentagon (and possibly the Homeland Security and State Department budgets) will be wacked by as much as half of the $1.5 trillion more that an as-yet undesignated congressional "super-committee" is supposed to come up with by Thanksgiving.
Put simply, these initiatives will treat national and homeland security as a bill-payer for deficit reduction.
The trouble is that - even if no further reductions were made in the spending allocated to defending our people and interests around the world - we will see ominous reductions in the capabilities needed to meet those vital responsibilities. That will be because of the more than $400 billion already cut from our national security investments over the past few years.
The warnings of what will befall our military and country as a result are beginning to accumulate. President Obama's first defense secretary, Robert Gates, put down repeated markers as he headed for the door to the effect that we risked once again "hollowing out" the armed forces if anything like the sorts of cuts Mr. Obama has proposed ($400 billion), let alone those called for by others (up to $1 trillion), are forthcoming.
Senior military officers, including the new chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and Admiral James Winnefeld, respectively, are making plain the repercussions would be far-reaching. Adm. Winnefeld told Congress at hisconfirmation hearing: "...As we get to a higher and higher number [of defense cuts], we're going to find that the strategies that we currently have are going to reach inflection points where we're just going to have to stop doing some of the things that we currently are able to do because what we can't afford is to have any kind of a cut result in a hollow force. We can't afford to have a cut result in irreversible damage to our industrial base."
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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