The U.S. military is on a dangerous course. Under the projected defense spending caps brought on by the Budget Control Act of 2011, funding for modernizing the military will be squeezed to a dangerous degree. That includes reduced spending on the procurement of new weapons and equipment and research and development on new defense technologies as the infographic below shows. (Article continued below.)

In a new paper, Heritage’s Baker Spring, the F. M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy, explains the impact the reduced funding will have on America’s defenses:

The result will be a military that lacks the modern weapons and equipment it needs, loses its technological edge over future enemies, and finds itself dependent on a seriously eroded defense industrial base.

As a result of the twin pressures of the estimated spending caps on the core defense program derived from the Budget Control Act . . . and the rising cost of military compensation, the level of funding for military modernization will necessarily fall to unacceptably low levels. Under this scenario, funding for defense modernization within the core defense program . . .  could fall to roughly $145 billion in current dollars in FY 2016.

How does that compare to where the military would have otherwise been? Spring says that under President Obama’s original budget request for FY 2012, $188.4 billion was to be allocated to these accounts — meaning that modernization funding will decline by $43 billion, or 23 percent, over the four-year period. If you control for inflation, that’s a 29 percent decline.

Spring says that’s an unacceptable course and he recommends that Congress 1) Prevent application of the national security and discretionary spending caps under the Budget Control Act to the DOD budget; and 2) Restructure the military health care and retirement systems to free money inside the DOD budget for application to the modernization account.

Read more about this issue in An Unacceptable Squeeze on Defense Modernization at