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News Link • Military Industrial Complex

DEFENSE CUTS: TROOPS OR GUNS? Do we fund the weapons or the troops who use them?

• Chet Nagle
“There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness.”
George Washington
It is official. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn says we cannot afford guns and butter. So what happens? Do we fund the weapons or the troops who use them? One thing is certain: no one is going to be happy.
Last week Lynn confirmed what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said during a speech at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas: Major cuts are coming. No doubt the library venue was selected because Gates had to pander to the liberal wing of the Obama administration by resurrecting Ike’s warnings about a “military industrial complex” and a “garrison state.” Old slogans never die, especially when money for defense is involved.
What Lynn said was that the Department of Defense (DoD) would kill part or all of some weapon buys in order to come up with $100 billion. Since the White House intends to flatline the defense budget for years, the funds made available by these new “efficiencies” will be needed just to maintain current force levels. What will get canceled or reduced? The crosshairs are moving toward the F-35 and F-22 fighters, the Marines’ amphibious Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, unspecified hardware and, of course, the troops.
We will not know exactly which weapons go on the chopping block until Washington finishes horse trading. Lobbyists worry about how campaign contributions promote their clients’ programs, politicians worry about factories in their districts, and the White House worries about looking weak on defense in the coming elections. But that $100 billion “efficiency” money will not solve the toughest DoD problem: the payroll.
No one in the Obama administration worries much about the troops and their families. After all, they do not have a union, and the White House figures they will follow Pentagon orders anyway. 

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