What will the military look like in 2019? That is a question that is being asked in light of Secretary Gates’ proposed defense budget cuts. In 2019 it will appear that Gates’ proposal for short-term savings will have jeopardized future readiness. Instead of focusing on evolving threats the U.S. military will have stayed in a state of limbo. Modernization will have come to a halt.
This is evident in the reduction of missile defense funding Gates proposed. The decrease of $1.4 billion will essentially stop the development of more advanced missile defense systems. Gates relies on the logical fallacy that since Iran and North Korea missiles cannot reach U.S. soil they pose no serious threat to national security. While proposing these cuts North Korea saw fit to launch a ballistic missile test in response to U.S. apathy.
Missile defense is not the only system awaiting its execution. The conventional forces stand to lose the F-22 program in favor of the less expensive F-35. Unfortunately, the F-22 and F-35 were designed to work together. The F-22 conducts long-range strikes and penetrates sophisticated air defenses clearing a path for the F-35. Other cuts have been proposed for U.S. Navy and Army conventional systems as well.
Defense spending is not the cause of economic problems in the U.S. It is quite the opposite. In fact, it only amounts to less than four percent of the gross domestic product -half the level it was during the Cold War. Defense cuts are not a panacea. In fact defense spending cuts have the opposite effect when they hurt military readiness and cost thousands of jobs. Gates needs to keep in mind that the threat landscape changes constantly and to provide for the common defense means modernizing the force. No one wants to be saying “I told you so” 10 years from now.