Eyes Wide Shut

Mackenzie Eaglen /

As the Senate prepares to consider the FY 2010 defense appropriations bill, members of Congress would be wise to listen to Appropriation Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii). In his opening statement at Wednesday’s subcommittee markup hearing, Inouye said, “As we go forward today killing the F-22, the presidential helicopter, the Combat Search and Rescue helicopter, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, we do so with the hope that today’s military and civilian leaders are more prescient than their predecessors in predicting our future needs.”

As my Heritage Foundation colleague Jim Talent and I have noted, President Obama has submitted a defense budget request that, if implemented, would dramatically reshape America’s military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the budget would shift about 10 percent of all Pentagon funds to irregular warfare.

That is a deceptive description: While the budget does indeed shift funding, the more important fact is that it cuts programs — in other words, it cuts next-generation equipment and platforms (such as ships, planes, and trucks) that our men and women in uniform will need in the future. And since it takes the military a decade or even two to build technologically sophisticated systems, the “future” must be paid for now. (more…)