“Providing for the common defense” is the federal government’s single most important responsibility as prescribed by the Constitution. It is the cornerstone of our freedom, upon which all other liberties and guarantees rely.
Our nation’s ability to protect its citizens must remain the foremost priority for the President and Congress, regardless of political affiliation or public sentiment. This requires providing the Department of Defense (DOD) with the necessary resources to do so.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Sequester Replacement and Reconciliation Act, designed to ensure those resources are in place by preventing devastating across-the-board cuts to our military. This legislation cuts $316 billion in federal spending over 10 years while preventing $78 billion in defense cuts next year. If left in place, sequestration would slash DOD funding by a catastrophic $600 billion over 10 years. This comes on the heels of President Obama’s recommendation to cut an additional $490 billion from our defense budget over the next decade.
The President’s decision to reduce military spending comes at a time when China and Russia are rapidly increasing their own. The threat of a nuclear Iran grows each day, while rogue elements of the Pakistani government consistently dismantle or thwart U.S. progress in Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the Administration’s decision earlier in the year, explaining that the Pentagon does not “anticipate” engaging in ground wars similar to Iraq or Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, current expectations do not make for sound future defense policy. Certainly, President Roosevelt did not “anticipate” the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, just as President Bush did not expect the 9/11 attacks.
Our national military strategy was altered to fit this new vision (and the President’s budget) by no longer requiring the military to be capable of carrying out two ground wars simultaneously. By doing so, it allows for a smaller force structure, decreased spending on weapons and technology, and the elimination of other military programs.
For example, the F-22 Raptor, which provides unrivaled air superiority, is a recent casualty of DOD cuts, despite the fact that the Chinese and the Russians are attempting to develop similar fifth-generation technology. Further, sophisticated and highly lethal missile systems such as the SA-20 and S-300/400 are proliferating worldwide.
It’s been said that the usefulness of weapons systems like the F-22 is limited, given that the Administration doesn’t anticipate any conflicts against near-peer adversaries in the foreseeable future. Of course, the reason why other nations with more traditional militaries do not wish to pursue a conflict with the United States is precisely because we have superior military assets.
A strong national defense not only allows the U.S. to react to acts of war quickly and effectively; it also serves as a deterrent to those attacks from hostile nations or groups. This security is the foundation upon which our freedoms are based. Simply put, the latter cannot exist without the former.
Congressman Phil Gingrey (R) represents Georgia’s 11th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.