By U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe
Since taking office, President Obama has continued his goal of cutting our nation's defense budget in order to fund his liberal agenda and growing entitlement programs. His new defense strategy continues to reduce the size of our military, abandons our current "two-front" strategy, and shifts this nation's primary focus to Asia. This new defense strategy with its associated defense cuts will increase risk to our national security and decrease global stability.
Already operating on a constrained budget, these additional cuts will debilitate our nation's military and jeopardize our men and women in uniform. Our forces have spent the past 22 years fighting multiple contingencies worldwide with equipment that is decades old, and they have done so with a force structure that is 40 percent smaller than it was in the 1980s. In the past two years, over 50 modernization programs have been terminated forcing our service men and women to continue to operate equipment well past its service life -- in some instances, by 30 years. Without additional funds, these weapon systems will remain in desperate need of modernization for the foreseeable future, leaving countries like China to continue improving the quality of their weapons - well surpassing the current quality of our military's weapons.
Budget cuts will also force the Department of Defense to abandon their current "two-front" strategy, sending a clear signal around the globe that America is disengaging at a time when the world is becoming less stable and more dangerous. For 22 years, the American military has deployed at a far greater rate than was ever the case during the Cold War. It has fought four major regional conflicts in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and has been engaged in support operations in Japan, Haiti, Libya, and throughout the United States. Under the President's new plan, he calls for the reduction our ground forces, cutting our Army by 80,000 and the Marine Corps by 15 percent. These reductions in ground forces will negatively impact every branch of our military and further shift the burden to our National Guard and Reserves.
I strongly disagree with President Obama's decision to shift our national focus to one specific area - Asia. While President Obama may have recently discovered Asia (apparently except for our friends in Taiwan), the United States and its military continues its commitment and presence in Asia and the Pacific with over 325,000 civilian and military personnel deployed. That includes six carrier battle groups and 28,500 personnel stationed in the Republic of Korea. Instead of focusing our nation's military in one specific region, the United States should also focus on ongoing threats initiated from countries like Iran, Syria, Egypt, or other trouble spots around the world. During a time when our nation and its allies face threats from across the world, it is alarmingly irresponsible for our Commander-and-Chief to place great emphasis on the continent of Asia while ignoring other parts of the world that pose a danger to our national security.
The first priority of our government is the protection of our nation and its citizens through a robust national defense. President Obama's new approach is clearly inadequate. While the Pentagon has endured cuts and draw downs in the past, like those prior to the Reagan administration and again during the Clinton administration, President Obama's cuts and the accompanying shift in strategy are unprecedented.
This move greatly impairs our national defense and the ability of our armed forces to fight across a broad spectrum of threats in multiple locations simultaneously. Without the necessary resources and focus on both current and future threats across the globe, our military will not be able to deter future conflict or win decisively on the battlefield.