by Dean Cheng and Bruce Klingner, Heritage Foundation
Abstract: The failure of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Super Committee”) to come to agreement on reducing the federal deficit raises the real prospect of a total of $1 trillion in additional cuts to the defense budget over the next decade. These cuts have been put forth with little consideration for their long-term impact: a dangerous degradation of America’s capacity to deter, defend, and defeat her enemies. They will have a particularly negative impact on America’s ability to stabilize and influence Asia, a critical component of U.S. national security. While the past century has seen America establish a strong role in Asia, these gains would be jeopardized by the proposed enormous pending cuts in defense capability.
The Department of Defense is already preparing for more than $400 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, and if the automatic reductions dictated by the 2011 Budget Control Act are not reversed, that number will increase by an additional $500 billion–$600 billion. These spending cuts will result in further reductions in the total number of U.S. aircraft carriers and/or carrier operations and maintenance—reductions that will affect America’s ability to maintain combat-ready, forward-deployed units.
Given America’s global commitments, such cuts will in turn hinder this nation’s ability to deter potential opponents and reassure friends and allies in Asia. They will devastate America’s military predominance and leadership in the Western Pacific at the very moment the Administration is declaring this century “America’s Pacific Century.”
Rather than starting with U.S. national security interests—let alone the necessary defense capabilities to achieve those objectives—and then considering whether they can be sustained in the face of defense cuts, the debate over defense has focused on dollar amounts. This lack of strategic analysis means that spending cuts will be implemented with no sense of priority and no appreciation for the danger that such draconian cuts would create.
Nor does it appear that the budget cutters in the Obama Administration or Congress will be forthright enough to identify two major ramifications of these cuts: the missions the United States would be forced to abandon or the increased risk that hollowing out the U.S military would pose to this country. Instead, it is likely that U.S. officials will continue to pledge that Washington will fulfill each of its missions even as the resources to do so shrink. Consequently, the United States will be sending its men and women in uniform into harm’s way without the necessary military means to achieve their objectives.
In reality, the provision of defense capabilities is much like the purchase of insurance: It is intended as a safeguard against a spectrum of catastrophic events. The amount of money spent on defense or insurance is directly related to the amount of risk one is willing to assume and the value of the objects to be insured. Too much insurance wastes resources, but too little can leave one in a disastrous position should the worst come to pass.
Nowhere is this analogy more evident than in Asia…..
Full Text: Defense Budget Cuts Will Devastate America’s Commitment to the Asia–Pacific