In case it is not clear, our military is in trouble. Unless change in Congress happens, “sequester” – a set of automatic cuts in federal spending – kicks in on January 2, 2013. The automatic cuts would chop the Pentagon’s budget by about $500 billion (That’s with a “B”) over nine years. That is about $55 billion per year. This whole process came about via agreement between the White House and Congressional House Republicans in the ongoing fight over federal government spending. I think it has become a big “OOPS!” Many Republicans now want to cancel the sequester through legislation, stating that the mandated cuts would pose a serious threat to our national security.
Now that time is drawing near, the cheese gets binding. The agreement and affected worker contracts require a 60 or 90 day notice if layoffs are to happen. The White House is telling military industry companies not to issue such notices to workers. This is in violation of the law. The companies are between a rock and a hard place not knowing exactly what to do. The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said that under such budget restraints, the USA would become a “paper tiger”. If layoffs happen en mass in companies that produce things, it could take months or even years to rebuild the skilled workforce in the military industrial complex back to the point of today. At the same time, troop strength would drop from the present 569,000 active-duty soldiers today to 426,000, the lowest number since WWII. Not smart in today’s world.
Mitt Romney advocates a strong military. He says he will restore budget cuts if they happen and even raise the defense budget by some $150 billion a year. Romney believes the United States of America should have a military second to none; in fact, one so powerful that no nation would take the risk of challenging it. I think most American citizens believe the same way.
On the other hand, periodically there are stories about military projects and production that are not needed or are carried on only to please some Senator or Representative. This must stop. We cannot waste any dollars, military or otherwise. All waste and pandering must be rooted out and ended. Weapons systems and development should be judged by professionals, not politicians. We expect our military to protect this country and its interests around the world, yet we handicap it with politics.
We have yet to see if the sequester can be avoided. Any compromise must come after the November election during a lame duck Congress. Good luck.