23 avril 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

COVID-19′s fiscal impact might ironically strengthen national defense

By: Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis (ret.)

As Congress and the White House cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic by passing multitrillion-dollar stimulus packages, many are already grappling with the thorny problem of how we'll eventually pay for the spike in spending. While no one ever wants to be a bill-payer, the defense industry is predictably first out of the blocks seeking immunity from any future cuts by trotting out its favorite weapon: fear.

Don't be fooled by this tried-and-true tactic: The claim that any cuts to the defense budget will imperil defense is gravely mistaken. Without changes in the foreign policy we enact — and a rational reform of how we spend our defense dollars — our national security will continue to decay.

First, the cold, hard economic reality: The damage done to our economy by the necessary measures federal and state governments have enacted to safeguard American lives has been breathtaking in its scope and severity. Some estimates suggest gross domestic product will contract this year by as much as 40 percent, and unemployment could balloon to 30 percent. To help stem the tide, Congress has already passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, with more yet to come.

With an already massive national debt of $24 trillion, the combination of government spending and the loss of tax revenue is going to place serious pressure on future budgets for years to come. These bills will eventually have to be paid, and no area of the budget will be free from scrutiny — including defense.

Though the Department of Defense should be funded to whatever level is required to ensure the ability of our armed forces to deter and, if necessary defeat any adversary that may seek to deprive our citizens of life or liberty, not all aspects of the status quo are helping keep us safe.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr recently co-wrote an article arguing that regardless of the financial strain imposed by the coronavirus stimulus bills, defense spending should be exempted. The reason, he says, is that the military today remains in a yearslong “free-fall” which “can't be fixed in a year or even four.”

The last thing America's leaders should do when responding to the financial constraints imposed by the coronavirus, he concludes, is to “weaken the military.” His implications that military readiness has been in free fall because of inadequate spending and that any reduction in defense spending weakens the military are beliefs held by many — and are inaccurate for several key reasons. Clinging to forever wars might be the biggest.

The DoD has to spend hundreds of billions annually to fight, maintain and prepare for subsequent deployments fighting the forever wars we've been waging for the better part of two decades.

Congress has allocated more than $2 trillion in direct outlays since 9/11 to fight so-called emergency requirements of overseas contingency operations, or OCO, and we have incurred an additional $4 trillion in associated and long-term costs. For fiscal 2020 alone, we will spend upward of an additional $137 billion on these OCO wars.

What is critical to understand, however, is that the perpetual continuation of these wars not only fails to improve our security — these fights negatively impact our ability to focus on and prepare for fighting adversaries that could one day pose an existential threat to us. The implications of this reality are considerable — and potential remedies can be of great help to our country.

If President Donald Trump were to order an end to some or all of our unnecessary forever wars, we could instantly save more than $100 billion a year without cutting anything else in the defense budget. If we then conducted prudent and necessary reforms in how we manage research and development, procurement, and acquisition, and in shedding unnecessary or outdated expenditures, tens of billions of additional savings could be realized.

Perhaps more importantly we could redirect much more focus and resources on training and professional education, which would enable the armed forces to better deter — and if necessary defeat — major opponents. Those two major changes alone would end the weakening of our military and materially contribute to strengthening its key capabilities — while lessening pressure on the federal budget.

The financial pressures this coronavirus is already placing on our nation's finances is real, and its effects will be felt for years. We will have to make hard decisions in the days ahead on where we spend our limited resources. If we are wise, we can reduce how much we spend on defense while simultaneously increasing our military power.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities. He retired from the Army in 2015 after 21 years in service that included four combat deployments.


Sur le même sujet

  • New Zealand’s military chief talks recruitment, drones and Ukraine

    6 juillet 2023 | International, Autre défense

    New Zealand’s military chief talks recruitment, drones and Ukraine

    Are maritime affairs more important than those on land for New Zealand? We put that question and more to Air Marshal Kevin Short.

  • USAF Takes Delivery Of A Rebuilt U.S. Army Black Hawk

    16 août 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    USAF Takes Delivery Of A Rebuilt U.S. Army Black Hawk

    Program Will Restore The Pave Hawk Operational Loss Replacement Fleet To Its Authorized Size The first Operational Loss Replacement HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter has been delivered to the U.S. Air Force by the U.S. Army by Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Paul Rauenhorst and Capt. Seth Peterson pilots on Aug. 5, 2019, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Defense Blog reports that the aircraft is a rebuilt low-hour U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk aircraft. “It's a much younger airframe,” Rauenhorst said. “These airframes are from 2001 to 2004 models, where ours sitting on the ramp are 1992 models. These are Army Limas rebuilt to be Golf models.” The HH-60 is the primary SAR helicopter deployed by the Department of Defense. Multiple aircraft have been lost in nearly 18 years deployed in combat operations, and the OLR program is designed to bring the Pave Hawk fleet back to its authorized size, according to the report. Chief Master Sgt. Eric Chester, 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, said that the OLRs will significantly increase the availability for the fleet, as they are lower-time aircraft that will require less maintenance. “The impact of the OLR coming into our wing is huge,” Chester said. “It's a big opportunity for everyone here to be able to take advantage of these new aircraft and reset across the board.” http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=ee00b374-5f9e-4eeb-8664-300e8851226e

  • US government may gain new power to track drones and shoot them down

    1 octobre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    US government may gain new power to track drones and shoot them down

    By: David Koenig, The Associated Press An aviation bill Congress is rushing to approve contains a little-noticed section that would give authorities the power to track, intercept and destroy drones they consider a security threat, without needing a judge's approval. Supporters say law enforcement needs this power to protect Americans from terrorists who are learning how to use drones as deadly weapons. They point to the Islamic State terrorist group's use of bomb-carrying drones on battlefields in Iraq, and warn that terrorists could go after civilian targets in the United States. Critics say the provision would give the government unchecked power to decide when drones are a threat. They say the government could use its newfound power to restrict drone-camera news coverage of protests or controversial government facilities, such as the new detention centers for young migrants. The provision is tucked in a huge bill that provides $1.7 billion in disaster relief and authorizes programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones. The House approved the measure Wednesday by a 398-23 vote, and the Senate is expected pass it on to President Donald Trump's desk in the coming days. The White House signaled support of the drone provision in July. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced the Preventing Emerging Threats Act this year. It would give the Homeland Security Department and the Justice Department power to develop and deploy a system to spot, track and shoot down drones, as unmanned aircraft are called. Officers would have the authority to hack a drone operator's signal and take control of the device. The bill was never considered on its own by the full Senate or the House. Instead, in private negotiations that ended last weekend, it was tucked into a "must-pass" piece of FAA legislation. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a recent op-ed that the threat of drone attacks "is outpacing our ability to respond." She said criminals use drones to smuggle drugs across the border, but worse, terrorists like the Islamic State are deploying them on the battlefield. "We need to acknowledge that our first and last chance to stop a malicious drone might be during its final approach to a target," she wrote. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement this week that the measure "would finally give federal law enforcement the authority we need to counter the use of drones by drug traffickers, terrorists and criminals." The National Football League's top security executive recently endorsed the bill's intent but said it should go further by letting trained local police officers intercept drones. The official, Cathy Lanier, a former Washington, D.C., police chief, said the NFL is alarmed by an increase in drone flyovers at stadiums. Opponents including the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the proposal gives the government unchecked power to track and seize drones without regard for the privacy and free-speech rights of legitimate drone operators. It exempts the government agencies from certain laws, including limits on wiretapping. The bill provides no oversight or means to question a government decision about what is a "credible threat" and what is an "asset" or "facility" in need of protection when drones are nearby. News organizations are increasingly using drones. They deploy them to cover natural disasters like the recent flooding from Hurricane Florence and also controversies such as the Trump administration's construction of new camps for migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Being able to see footage of protests, the size of protests, being able to see facilities like those at the border is useful — those are newsworthy events," said India McKinney, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Without a specific means to protect First Amendment rights — something not in the bill — "it's entirely feasible to think that the DOJ or DHS could just decide that a drone owned by a news organization provides a credible threat and then destroys the footage," she said. ___ David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/09/28/government-may-gain-new-power-to-track-drones-and-shoot-them-down

Toutes les nouvelles