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Johnson Holding Line Against Defense Cuts


Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Bill Johnson - a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel - acknowledges there is waste in the federal defense budget.

But he also believes those dollars should not be cut from current defense allocations, but rather redirected to other defense areas where they are needed.

As an example, Johnson, R-Ohio, pointed out that funding for military "human" intelligence was all but eliminated during the Clinton administration, and he said this funding should be resumed in light of today's war against terrorism.

"Is there money that can be saved in the Pentagon? Yes," Johnson acknowledged. "But should that money be cut out of the Pentagon's budget, or should that money be put toward something that we need? It's a big question.

"What a lot of folks might not be willing to accept yet is that America has become part of the battlefield. The continental United States became part of the battlefield in September 2001," he added. "The bad guys have demonstrated that they can come here, and that they can bring the fight to us."

America has few choices, "but we can choose the time and place of the fight," he continued.

"If we are going to provide for the nation's security, we are going to have to understand that the wars of the future aren't going to be like the wars of the past where we are fighting standing armies and occupied territory and setting up permanent facilities," Johnson said. "That's not what we're going to be doing.

"The enemy blends in among us - lurks in the shadows, hides in caves and holes. To go after an enemy like that requires a sophistication that only America possesses. And we're going to have to invest in those kinds of capabilities if we are going to be able to protect America's freedoms and provide for our national security in the future."

Johnson said he is concerned when people want to cut defense funding and "bring our troops home."

"Our young men and women are in Afghanistan - and were in Iraq - and we can debate until the cows come home why they went in initially," he said. "But I submit to you we are there so the bad guys can't come here. We chose the time and the place of the fight, and we chose to fight in their backyard rather than our backyard.

"I'm sorry. I didn't create the world," he added. "God did. Only he knows why we are in the situation we are in. But the enemy we are fighting - we're either going to fight him in his backyard or ours."

Johnson doesn't believe there is "a start and end point" to the war against terror.

"If you can't win the hearts and minds of the people you are trying to change - your adversaries ... if you can't break the will, you only have three choices," he said. "Number one - you can tuck tail and run and pray they don't come after you. Number two is total annihilation - and that's not the American way. We're not going to do that.

"And number three is we choose the time and place of the fight, and go after them in ways to make it impossible for them to come after you. That's what we're doing, and what we're going to have to continue to do," he said.

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