The leftist Hill magazine has recently published yet another ridiculous op-ed by an anti-defense hack, this time, Rebecca Griffin, the “political director” of “Peace Action West”, a pacifist group. The op-ed is an entire litany of blatant lies. This article will refute them.
Titled “Congress has a blind spot for Pentagon spending”, it begins by falsely claiming that defense spending is “out of control” and that even despite sequestration, the Congress has failed to rein it in.
This is such a blatant lie, it’s hard to believe such a lie has even been attempted. Congress has passed FIVE rounds of defense cuts in the last 4 years. First were the massive weapon program killings ordered by Secretary Gates in 2009 and 2010. Next was the New START unilateral arms cuts treaty. Third was the Gates Efficiencies Initiative ($178 bn), ratified by Congress in 2011. Next was the first (pre-sequestration) round of Budget Control Act-mandated defense cuts ($487 bn over a decade). Sequestration is the fifth, and it will cut another $550 bn from the defense budget over a decade.
To date, the DOD has contributed $900 bn (pre-sequestration) to deficit reduction, while no other federal agency or program has contributed anything meaningful.
The author falsely claims “smart, strategic cuts” in defense spending (she doesn’t even use the term – she calls it “Pentagon spending”, which is intended as a pejorative term) on the scale of sequestration (which is $550 bn per decade, $55 bn per year) can be made without harming national security and will actually make the nation stronger by supposedly improving its economic health.
That is a blatant lie, just like the rest of that screed. Cutting defense – no matter how deeply – would do little to reduce the budget deficit and thus improve America’s economic health. Even eliminating America’s military budget entirely would fail to even halve the annual budget deficit, which is over $1 trillion, as the below graph by the Heritage Foundation shows.
The author touts the various studies and reports written by “think-tanks across the political spectrum” as well as proposals by politicians ranging from Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) to the Congressional Progressive Caucus as supposedly proposing “smart, strategic cuts” that would allegedly not weaken the military or hurt national security. But that’s an utterly false claims.
The majority of the cuts proposed by them, including the vast majority of the cuts proposed by POGO, “Taxpayers for Common Sense”, the pro-Russian Center for Defense Misinformation, the Cato Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, PIRG, Sen. Tom Coburn (RINO-OK), the Center for American Progress, and the Congressional Progressive (read: Communist) caucus would target the muscle and bone of the US military: nuclear deterrence, missile defense, air and naval superiority, power projection, and so forth.
(Most of these organizations are funded or co-funded by George Soros, by the way.)
They would target such vital weapon systems and assets as aircraft carriers, surface combatants, submarines, missile interceptors, bombers, ICBMs, nuclear warheads, V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, air superiority fighters, and so on. They would also deeply cut the force structure (i.e. the size) of all military services, which are already (excepting the Army) too small and too overstretched. (The Navy, for example, can supply only 59% of combatant commanders’ requests for ships.)
In other words, they could cut deeply into the muscle, not the fat: the essentials, not the waste.
I have personally reviewed all of these proposals, studies, and reports. The vast majority of them target the muscle, not the fat, of the military.
Rebecca Griffin demands that spending on “outmoded” weapon systems be cut and that somehow, cutting it deeply can avert sequestration and provide the necessary savings. That is balderdash. Not only does she not specify what she means by that, other than the F-35, that claim is in any case false. Firstly, Secretaries Gates and Panetta have already killed over 50 weapon programs since 2009, and Secretary Hagel has proposed to cancel two others (PTSS and the SM-3 Block 2B).
Secondly, acquisition is a small (and increasingly smaller) item in the defense budget. Operations &maintenance (financing current equipment and bases, as well as healthcare programs, training, and daily operations) is the largest, followed by personnel spending. Together, these two categories will consume 100% of the entire defense budget by FY2024 if allowed to grow on autopilot, thus automatically crowding out weapons spending.
This means that even if no more weapon programs are killed, personnel, operations, and maintenance costs will consume the ENTIRE defense budget by FY2024 on autopilot. No, weapons programs cannot yield any big savings. That’s not where the money is.
And while the F-35 is a badly flawed airplane, the air superiority mission is hugely important. Air superiority is the sine qua non of any successful military operation. And it is and will be contested by America’s adversaries. They (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria) have advanced air defense systems (e.g. the S-300, S-400, S-500, HQ-9, and SA-11/17) as well as advanced, high quality fighters (e.g. the Flanker family, the J-10, JF-17, PAKFA, J-20, J-31, MiG-35) that outmatch every US aircraft except the F-15 and F-22.
Indeed, while Griffin falsely claims that there will never again be a war with another conventional adversary, and only small terrorist groups threaten the US, the US actually has two peer competitors (Russia and China) who are very close to matching the US in military strength, having closed most of the gaps that previously separated them from the US military and now working hard on closing the remaining gaps.
But it isn’t just Russia and China. Rogue states like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela are also growing their military power while America is cutting its own, and it’s emboldening them. North Korea now has ICBMs capable of reaching the CONUS – and can miniaturize nuclear warheads to mate them with missiles.
The “we have no conventional adversaries, so we can afford to cut defense spending deeply” claim is a blatant lie.
But while she makes light of sequestration and denies that leftist think-tanks defense cuts proposals would weaken the military, she makes apocalyptic claims about the sequester’s cut to civilian discretionary programs. She claims that poisoned food will land on your table and children will be starving if sequestration is not resolved. She furthermore claims that this is weaponmaking companies’ and their CEOs’ fault, and claims that under sequestration, American children will be starving while defense companies’ CEOs’ salaries will be protected.
This is a blatant lie. In fact, under sequestration, defense companies’ CEOs’ salaries will be cut significantly. Why? Because 100% of the sequester’s cuts will fall on weapon programs as well as operations &maintenance. Personnel spending and base infrastructure in the US are completely exempt from sequestration. So weapons spending will be cut deeply under this mechanism – and with it, the CEOs’ salaries.
And it is utterly dishonest and shameful for Rebecca Griffin to claim that the defense companies, their CEOs, or DOD weapon programs are to blame for sequestration or will cause children to starve, when these very companies and programs will actually get hardest hit by sequestration. Demonizing them is utterly dishonest and shameful. (Disclaimer: I do not, and have never worked, for any defense company.)
Griffin also falsely claims:
“As the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out, cuts on the level of sequestration would amount to the smallest post-war reduction in defense spending since before the Korean War. We can make smart, strategic reductions on the level of sequestration and still be spending more than the yearly Cold War average.”
This is also utterly false. Sequestration will be the biggest cut in defense spending since the 1950s (the post-Korean-War drawdown) and also the fastest, as it is required to be implemented quickly, starting THIS fiscal year, not in a gradual manner like previous drawdowns. Furthermore, it will cut defense spending this FY to $469 bn, BELOW the annual Cold War average.
“But apparently some people still think we’re locked in a global standoff with the Soviet Union. Remembering what century we’re in provides opportunities for major reductions, such as looking at our outmoded weapons systems.”
This is also a blatant lie. I’ve already addressed the issue of supposedly “outmoded” weapons systems and of weapons spending in general, but I shall also say that the world is now more dangerous than ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said this is the most dangerous world he has seen throughout his 38 years of service. While the Afghan war is slowly ending, the world is not getting any safer – it’s getting more dangerous by the day. Therefore, America cannot afford to cut its defense budget.
Griffin’s screed is a litany of blatant lies. Not one claim made therein is true. Shame on the Hill magazine for publishing it, and shame on Congressman Coffman for republishing it on his website solely because it mentions him.