The United States is teetering at the precipice of disaster. It not only confronts an increasingly dangerous world. It is engaged in defense budget cuts that will, predictably, make it more so. Worse yet, legislators are actively contemplating steps that will not just hollow out our military, but eviscerate it - an irresistible invitation to aggression by freedom's foes.
At the moment, no one has taken a more prominent, informed and vociferous role in opposing such self-inflicted wounds than the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon. Under his leadership, that panel has done more than any other to lay out the dire implications of the national security spending reductions already in the pipeline, and those now in prospect.
Notably, in a recently released report entitled "Future Cuts Transform a Superpower into a Regional Power," Mr. McKeon's staff determined that, "We believe potential cuts to the military pose a serious threat that would break the back of our armed forces while slowing our economic recovery and doing little to resolve our debt crisis."
The report illuminates the myriad ways in which the finest military in the history of the world could be rendered in the immediate future ill-equipped, inadequately trained, insufficiently manned and inappropriate to emerging international conditions.
For instance, we have very old and, in some cases, actually obsolescent weapon systems - armored vehicles, ships, aircraft, missiles and nuclear weapons. Their modernization and associated research and development is going over the side.
At the same time, the troops responsible for wielding such arms in order to keep the rest of us safe and free are being asked to sacrifice as never before, with some performing their fourth, fifth or sixth combat tours. These servicemen and women are nonetheless being told that they will have to do so with less training, even older gear, fewer funds to maintain it and the likelihood that the pensions, medical care and other benefits they have earned will be savaged.
This is, as Chairman McKeon has warned, the way to break the military. His staff even anticipates that the return of conscription may be required to fill the ranks if the all-volunteer force simply cannot withstand such buffeting.
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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