Americans Don’t Fear Defense Cuts? They’re Wrong.

Mike Brownfield /

New polling data from Rasmussen Reports shows that 48 percent of Americans think that the United States can make major cuts in defense spending without putting America at risk. Unfortunately, they’re wrong.

Case in point: base closures. Some in Congress are looking to the U.S. military’s overseas bases as places to cut back on spending in order to fund domestic priorities. In¬†May, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., wrote then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

Given the U.S. military’s advanced technology and the capability of our forces to deploy throughout the world from stateside bases, I believe there may be added value in further reducing our foreign basing footprint.

Cutting back on bases, though, will undermine the United States’ status as a global power and its ability to execute missions overseas. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano¬†explains in The Washington Examiner the purpose that overseas bases serve:

Bases enable the U.S. to get somewhere and stay there at a reasonable cost. U.S. fighter aircraft, for example, need repair parts every few days. Having parts and maintenance facilities on hand is dramatically cheaper than running back to the U.S. every time a plane needs to be fixed, rearmed or refueled.

Geography matters. If the U.S. did not have global bases, it would need twice as many ships, planes and troops to cover the same missions. We’d have to build additional bases here to house all those resources, and we’d still need to send them halfway around the world to get to the problems they’re asked to solve. That is simply unaffordable.

Those bases serve an important strategic purpose–particularly in today’s engagements. Carafano writes:

When it comes to dealing with two-thirds of our national security problems — everything from battling the Taliban to keeping watch on Iran — the U.S. ships, planes and soldiers based in Europe are “halfway there.”

Base closures aside, cutting defense has other implications for the military, as well. Heritage’s MacKenzie Eaglen describes the practical effect of impending budget cuts, and it’s not pretty:

Several years ago, an Air Force F-15C literally broke in half during flight. Since then, two F-18s have caught fire aboard ships. Today, every single cruiser hull has cracks; A-10C Warthogs have fuselage cracks, and the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter fleet is regularly grounded. Over half the Navy’s deployed aircraft are not ready for combat.

In short, the military is facing a readiness crisis. Closing bases and cutting military spending further will only make the problem worse, and national security will suffer.

Read more of Carafano’s op-ed, “America cannot afford a baseless national security strategy” at WashingtonExaminer.com.