By: Rear Adm. James J. Carey
The Free Lance-Star

Your Feb. 19 article titled “Focus of bill is defense industry” mentioned the budget cuts now threatening the Pentagon but neglected to mention that they total more than $1 trillion and could cost more than 122,000 Virginians their jobs, according to an estimate by Dr. Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University.

That’d be a tough number to swallow even in good times, and even if the cuts were necessary.

But experts say that the defense budget accounts for only 16 percent of federal spending, dropped from 40 percent during Vietnam.

Defense-related R&D–the types of programs that invented the Internet, GPS, and jet propulsion–is down to just 2 percent of spending. Even eliminating these programs can’t fix our deficit.

The cuts could, however, hollow out our military, put our troops in danger, and imperil our national security.

We can’t, for instance, contain an increasingly aggressive Iran without stealthy reconnaissance drones to keep constant surveillance, top-notch fighter jets to destroy nuclear weapons facilities, or next-generation combat ships to ensure the safety of petroleum shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says all of these capabilities could waste away in just a decade under the proposed defense cuts.

If Congress gets one thing done this year, it should stop these defense cuts.