Sequestration is wrong path to defense spending reform

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To the Editor,

On March 1, sequestration became effective. Since then, the Navy has had to delay maintenance for numerous ships and aircraft, the Air Force has had to stand down 17 fighter and bomber squadrons (a third of the entire fighter/bomber force) as well as many airlift units, the Army can’t afford adequate training for troops deploying to Korea, training for Global Strike Command pilots will be cut by 20 percent, and all services will have to dramatically cut down on training and equipment for all other units not deploying to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, across all weapon programs, contracts will have to be renegotiated, order quantities cut, and thus, economies of scale lost. Every non-personnel Department of Defense (DOD) program faces a uniform 9 percent cut.

Regaining the troops’ professional proficiency, bringing existing equipment (worn out after 11 years of war) into good condition and replacing obsolete equipment will cost much more money later down the road than if there had been no sequester and readiness maintained at previous levels. Moreover, such across-the-board cuts will only aggravate the problem of DOD waste, not solve it.

Thus, it was amusing to hear organizations such as the National Taxpayers Union and Project on Government Oversight call on Congress in a recent letter to maintain sequestration because it will allegedly spur DOD reforms while not being an “ideal” way to effect. To say that sequestration is not an ideal mechanism is a vast understatement — sequestration is NO way to “reform” the DOD or cut federal spending at all, regardless of one’s personal stance on cutting defense spending further. Sequestration will make the problem of DOD waste so much worse instead of solving it.

If such organizations and people are really concerned about “waste” in the defense budget, they should be leading the campaign to cancel sequestration. Sadly, this is not what’s happening.

We’re also being told these days that sequestration is bad, but “smart,” “strategic” defense cuts would be good. However, I have personally reviewed many studies calling for such cuts, and the vast majority of these proposals target crucial, needed programs (such as the next generation bomber, warship programs of various types, the nuclear deterrent, missile defense, air superiority fighters, etc.) — not “waste.”

While “waste” in the defense budget often catches the headlines, it amounts to a small part of that budget. For example, Sen. Coburn’s famous “Department of Everything” proposals would save only $6.79 billion per year — not enough to offset even one quarter of sequestration.

To balance its books, this nation needs to confront the truth that cutting defense spending further will utterly fail to accomplish that goal, and will only undermine military readiness and prowess.

Zbigniew Mazurak, Norfolk
Mazurak is a contributor to Conservative DailyNews.com.

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