Proposed cuts may help enemy

December 9, 2008 

Recently I read that Congressman Barney Frank from Massachusetts, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced that Defense spending would be cut 25 percent.

The Department of Defense will have to choose between new equipment systems or more people in uniform. Whether you consider operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to be two different wars or both part of the war against terrorism, people are getting killed in both places. So we’re in a war.

How could a senior leader in this country do more to give hope to an enemy than to publicly state that we’re going to cut Defense spending by 25 percent? That’s not chump change.

Now with that said, I agree that some weapons on the books aren’t ideally suited for counterinsurgency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s pretty hard for a nuclear powered attack submarine to navigate the Tigris or Euphrates Rivers.

The Taliban isn’t ready to challenge an F-22 either. Our need is for more soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan with the weapons and equipment for the ground war there. I’d say we should reallocate money to the accounts that support the ground fight rather than cut the total amount.

I sure wouldn’t go around telling the open source media that I plan to do all I can to cut a fourth of the budget. National level leaders should understand the potential impact of their words. Maybe this was simply a tactic to judge reaction, but I question the wisdom of saying this regardless of the reason.

Not very long ago I remember a lot of people blaming the current administration for soldiers not being equipped with the newest body armor, MRAP vehicles, and other things. What does Rep. Frank and his allies think a 25 percent cut will mean eventually?

We might not see an immediate impact but sooner or later we’ll send a soldier, sailor, airman or marine into some situation where they will not have an advantage. Presidents and Congress have always had to prioritize money allocations based on the world they faced.

There have always been delays in getting the top of the line equipment to everyone because the pot of gold is only so big. However, to propose cutting 25 percent in a time of war is just plain stupid. Even discussing a cut that large in an open forum is stupid.

President-elect Barack Obama faces a number of tough decisions when he takes office in January.

He faces an awesome responsibility and will probably receive conflicting advice. We’ve rarely had someone take office while facing the level of danger and uncertainty ahead that this country confronts.

Our national leadership regardless of party needs to think carefully before they spout off ideas that might sound good in a campaign but really stink in the light of day.

If Rep. Frank really means what he said and is successful in making that cut happen, I hope he has an opportunity to answer for that decision when someone dies due to a lack of some piece of equipment or weapon or the lack of the required number of men and women in uniform.

John M. House is a retired Army colonel who lives in Midland, Ga. His e-mail is

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