It is always a hard thing to watch honorable and intelligent people torture themselves to avoid acknowledging the obvious. Unfortunately, the contradictions and incoherence of America’s defense policy are beginning to make everyone involved in it look silly.
Here is the latest example.
By Jim Talent
National Review Online
On April 6, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates announced that he was recommending a number of cuts in major defense programs. At the beginning of his remarks, Secretary Gates made a point of insisting that his recommendations were not the result of pressure to cut defense spending:
“My decisions have been almost exclusively influenced by factors other than simply finding a way to balance the books or fit under the ‘top line’ — as is normally the case with most other budget exercises. Instead, these recommendations are the product of a holistic assessment of capabilities, requirements, risks, and needs for the purpose of shifting this department in a different strategic direction. Let me be clear: I would have made all of the decisions and recommendations announced today regardless of the department’s top-line budget number.”
A week later, the Department of Defense fired its first salvo in support of the recommendations of its chief. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post defending Gates’s decision to end procurement of the F-22 air-superiority fighter at 183 planes and close the F-22 production line. They had a difficult task, since it was only last summer that the same two men had vigorously argued that without at least 60 additional F-22s, the Air Force could not perform its air-dominance mission. And air dominance is the cornerstone mission of the Air Force. Unless the skies are cleared of enemy fighters, the rest of America’s military, including bombers, non-stealthy strike fighters, ground forces, and naval vessels, cannot operate safely.
Donley and Schwartz began their op-ed by conceding what could not be denied: that the F-22 was “the most capable fighter in our military inventory” — the only American fighter that can hold its own against advanced Russian- and Chinese-built fighters, which will remain in production for years to come — and that they had indeed, less than a year ago and after a thorough review of global risks, concluded that increasing the F-22 inventory from 183 to 243 was necessary to America’s national military strategy. Then they got to the heart of their argument: that the Air Force could simply not undertake the cost of buying more F-22’s because “defense budgets are becoming more constrained.”
“This decision has increasingly become a zero-sum game. Within a fixed Air Force and overall Defense Department budget, our challenge is to decide among many competing needs. Buying more F-22s means doing less of something else. In addition to air superiority, the Air Force provides a number of other capabilities critical to joint operations for which joint warfighters have increasing needs. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and related needs in the space and cyber domains.”
In other words, one week after the secretary of defense absolutely, positively denied that budgetary pressure had anything to do with his decision to shut down the F-22 line, the two men who run the Air Force defended that decision on the basis of budgetary pressure.
Read the rest:
The Center for Security Policy said:
The defense budget reductions recently unveiled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seem to have one thing in common: They will diminish the United States’ ability to extend its global reach for the protection of this country and its interests around the world.
First 100 Days: Blame America First, Undermining U.S. Sovereignty, Appeasement