Other Things Can Be Cut Besides Defense

Last week, Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) sent a strong message to members of Congress that further defense cuts are not an acceptable solution to solving our current debt crisis.

Despite Democrats' efforts to label defense spending as a “sacred cow” on par with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs, it is important to remember that the primary constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president is to defend our nation. A strong and modern military has been the key to U.S. dominance and global leadership since World War II and should not be compromised when there are other programs that can be reduced. Our military funding is too important and Kyl was right to defend this funding by any means necessary, including leaving the super committee in order to protect our military. Cuts to other departments and programs that are less important to the protection and growth of our country, such as the Department of Energy and the many duplicitous government programs, should be first on the chopping block.

A strong military has given both President Barack Obama and past presidents a tool that can be used for good around the world. The last four presidents have all had to deal with circumstances that were not anticipated in which the military has played a key role. In addition to wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, presidents have sent the military on missions in Libya and Somalia as well as provided disaster relief efforts in Pakistan, Haiti, and Indonesia. A strong military, when used appropriately, can bring peace and prosperity to a region and create goodwill among local populations.

Since wars are difficult to anticipate, it is easier for policymakers and safer for soldiers to have a well-equipped, modern fighting force that can be deployed immediately. We saw the deadly consequences in Iraq when the military was unprepared for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and the costs of developing new vehicles to transport and protect soldiers.

The U.S. for decades has also enjoyed a technological advantage over other nations because of extensive investment in research and development (R&D). American innovation has created stealth aircrafts like the one used in the bin Laden raid, predator drones, and advanced satellite systems that allow us to track and hunt down enemies all over the world. Because the last several conflicts we have fought have been against much weaker enemies, such as the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, we have always had a technological advantage. However, as we move into the new century, we must be wary of rising superpowers such as China or any other emerging power. R&D is not something we can easily start up again once it is stopped. It can take billions of dollars and years of testing to create a safe and reliable platform that we can use in a conflict.

In our desire to control out-of-control government spending, we must examine every area of the budget to find savings. We cannot continue to spend at our current rate. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, stated that the biggest danger to our country is our debt. Tough choices must be made and programs that people support and rely on will be reduced or eliminated. However, our military is our safety net. It is the reason we have been able to expand global trade, create international alliances, and live our lives peacefully. While certain cuts can be made, we cannot afford to gut our military any more than is necessary.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Parker Reynolds

I have worked as a policy professional in Washington DC for over two years, mainly with the US Congress. Previously, I worked as a defense and foreign policy analyst for three years in Connecticut. I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky and follow their basketball team religiously.

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