By: Lt. Gen. Garry R. Trexler USAF (Ret.)
Your Feb. 15 article “Defense secretary to visit Barksdale” noted recent defense budget cuts could force the retirement of 21 A-10 Warthogs from the base, but neglected to mention an even bigger problem — that the F-35 fighter jets intended to replace them could be permanently canceled by the $600 billion in further defense cuts triggered by Congress’ failed super committee.
These cuts could end every major acquisitions program the Pentagon has planned. In addition to the F-35, that includes the long-range bombers to replace aging B-52s and even the ICBM-leg of our nuclear triad — key defense assets overseen by the Global Strike Command at Barksdale. Our enemies Iran and North Korea are building nuclear ballistic missiles and China is working on advanced stealth aircraft that could go toe-to-toe with the F-22 Raptor, our most capable fighter.
Military cuts could obviously hurt Barksdale Air Force base and local Shreveport businesses, but they could also hurt the engineering and manufacturing industries that build military equipment. Canceled research programs would halt the development of new military capabilities that frequently double as commercial breakthroughs, like the ARPAnet, which eventually turned into the Internet. All told, economists say we could lose 1.5 million good jobs.
These radical defense cuts are bad military and economic policy.