Brig. Gen. Stephen C. Boone
The Fayetteville Observer

You’re right: defense budget cuts threaten the economic vitality of Fayetteville and other communities with a significant military presence. (“Shrinking – What can we do to offset defense budget cuts?” Jan. 15) But make no mistake: the threat to national security is also very real.

Our military strength can withstand some budget cuts, but not $1 trillion worth over the next decade – the amount to be slashed under last year’s budget agreement unless Congress acts to forestall “sequestration,” or automatic across-the-board cuts. A bipartisan array of experts is warning that sequestration would meaningfully weaken our ability to defend America’s interests around the world. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has spoken of “hollowing out” our armed forces, leaving America vulnerable to future threats like Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela and multiple other countries that support terrorism.

 It’s especially troubling that sequestration would take the chain saw to research-and-development and modernization expenditures that are a scant 2 percent of the budget but for decades have provided America with such innovations as jet engines, stealth technology and drone aircraft – keeping us a step ahead of our adversaries. Cut the fat, yes. But don’t stop investing in the arsenal of democracy.