America’s military is witnessing yet another attempt to recast the negative impact of massive defense cuts, this time in a report by the Council on Foreign Relations that attempts to illustrate the effect that slashed spending will have on U.S. forces and security. Unfortunately, the report uses some of the same ill-founded assumptions that the Obama Administration has made to justify cutting defense spending, thereby failing to paint an adequate picture of how U.S. military readiness will suffer under these new constraints.
The council divides the military into “winners” and “losers” based on recent Pentagon guidance. But the truth is that all the services lose. The “shift” to Asia does not make the Navy and Air Force “winners.” Just counting the budget reductions already passed—and not the sequestration’s potential impact—the fleets of both the Navy and Air Force will be dramatically reduced in the near future.
Equally weak is the argument that reducing the defense budget is part of “restoring the fiscal foundations of American power.” The report concedes that entitlement programs are consuming ever-larger portions of the federal budget. Slashing defense funds will not stop this trend.
Another argument for cutting the defense budget is that it is bloated, having “roughly doubled since 9/11.” That statistic is also misleading. Much of that funding over the last decade has gone to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget has actually decreased systematically for many years.