Retired Cmdr. Peter J. Reynierse
President Obama’s vision for a slimmer military is a good jumping-off point for a national discussion on security after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Gen. Wesley Clark’s “A defense strategy for our time,” Feb. 3), but Gen. Clark fails to address its greatest flaw: the new strategy only deals with the current round of budget cuts, not the further $600 billion in “sequestration” that will hit in January 2013. What good is a game plan that gets you to the 50-yard line and stops?
The reality is, defense has already been slashed to the bone under President Obama, with almost $500 billion in cuts and “efficiency” savings bringing the Pentagon down to just 16 percent of federal spending (it was 40 percent in the 1970s) while entitlement spending has exploded, on course to consume 100 percent of government revenues by 2050.
Sequestration means $600 billion in additional cuts across the board of our entire military, undermining the whole idea of finding savings in outmoded areas (like massive standing armies) while investing in capabilities we really need (like satellites and drones).
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta understands this: he’s been railing against “goofy meat-axe” defense cuts for months and says if sequestration hits, the new strategy will be “out the window.” I imagine Gen. Clark agrees as well. But only Congress can put the brakes on sequestration before it demolishes our military.