Rear Admiral Ernie Elliot
Columbus Dispatch

The news that Ohio lost a third of its high-tech manufacturing jobs in the past decade is sobering (“Ohio bled high-tech jobs in past decade, “ 1/18). Unfortunately, the trend could get worse if Congress follows through with a budget plan that would radically reduce defense research & development funding over the next decade.

Because Congress failed to reach a budget deal in November, automatic across-the-board spending cuts will take effect next January, chopping essential programs along with wasteful ones. Unless lawmakers change course, there will be unprecedented cutbacks in defense R&D programs that boost Ohio’s economy in Columbus – where it supports major employers such as Battelle – and across the state, including economically struggling areas like Dayton (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is Ohio’s largest employer).

Of course, defense R&D and modernization programs not only create jobs; they also keep our troops the best-equipped in the world, thanks to such innovations as aerial drones and stealth aircraft. Together, they account for only 1.3% of the federal budget.

Given the threats America faces abroad from Iran and North Korea and the continued jobs crisis here at home, slashing defense R&D next year would be absurd at best and suicidal at worst.