We must maintain the best military in the world that can defeat any threat to the United States and its allies. We must provide our brave warfighters with the very best equipment and training. Finally and most importantly, should we have to use force, we must make sure it is a lopsided, unfair fight.
Over the course of the next two months the House Armed Services Committee will continue its annual debate over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA will set out the broad policy, program priorities and congressional direction that will make up our overall national security policy for the upcoming year and beyond. In a time of excessive Congressional gridlock, the NDAA has proven to be one of only a handful of bills that makes it through the entire legislative process each year.
The President’s vision for our defense, as seen in the Administration’s budget, is troubling. On the surface I believe President Obama is using our debt and deficit crisis to cut deeply into the Defense budget.
As a conservative, I am the first to agree the entire government must tighten its collective belt. But, under sequestration, the Defense Department is absorbing approximately $55 billion in cuts per year over nine years, that’s arbitrary and it will be devastating.
At the same time, as the world’s remaining superpower we must be prudent not to sacrifice our security.
The president proposes slashing an additional $120 billion in cuts to defense over ten years. This is despite the recommendation of his senior military advisor, who testified the defense budget can’t afford additional cuts of even $1.
While I am highly doubtful additional savings can’t be found in defense budget, even under sequestration, the president’s proposal simply is not realistic. I cannot recall the defense budget being cut so drastically, especially with our country facing so many dangerous threats and warfighters in harm’s way.
As Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, I oversee our nation’s missile defense programs, nuclear weapons and space assets. With the ongoing developments in North Korea and Iran, uncertainty in Pakistan and new efforts by China and Russia to improve their weapons systems, this is clearly an area of jurisdiction that’s critical to our national security.
President Obama’s proposed draconian reductions in military spending fall heavily on U.S. nuclear and missile defense programs.
The President has long held these programs in low regard.
Take, for example, our missile defense programs, which have been cut by more than 16 percent, or $6 billion since he took office. If you compare the five year plan the President proposed this year to the last five year plan proposed by the previous administration, there’s an even more severe 26 percent cut to our missile defense programs.
It would be one thing if the President was implementing such devastating cuts because North Korea and Iran had rolled back their missile and nuclear programs. But the real threat posed by these countries couldn’t be further from that fantasy land.
I remain skeptical of the commitment to a “new” missile defense strategy based on these budget proposals.
In the area of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, the Administration is expected to soon come to conclusion on its review of the nation’s nuclear war plan. This “90-day study”, that took 18 months to complete, is likely to recommend significant further U.S. nuclear force reductions.
More telling is the Administration has so little confidence in the prudence of the cuts it is planning, the President is reported to be planning how to avoid Congress and undertake further nuclear reductions outside of the formal treaty process.
As Chairman of this subcommittee, I intend to do all I can to ensure no further reductions to U.S. nuclear forces occur without a formal treaty or explicit, affirmative authorization by Congress. This is the sort of checks-and-balances approach to national policy intended by the framers of our Constitution.
Just two months ago, General Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee the military couldn’t absorb another dollar of cuts without jeopardizing their current missions.
Yet in the President’s budget request, he asks for another $120 billion in defense cuts. It’s still unclear what missions would be abandoned, reduced or simply cancelled to comply with his budget requests.
Either way, these aren’t the priorities of a strong America. They certainly are not priorities that reflect the current day threats facing the most powerful nation on the planet.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama is chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.