President Obama's defense strategy is dangerous

By:  Sen. Jim Inhofe
The Oklahoman

The Oklahoman

 

President Obama’s defense strategy is dangerous

 

By: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

 

Link to Op-Ed 

President Barack Obama's recently announced defense strategy is a recipe for disaster. While there are steps that can be taken by the Pentagon to reduce costs, Obama's attempt to reduce deficit spending on the backs of our military is a dangerously irresponsible proposition, unduly increasing risk to our national security. 

Obama's shift is an abandonment of our military's traditional two-front strategy. The result of his divestment is a significant reduction in land forces when our men and women in uniform are already stretched thin, a heavier reliance on an overworked National Guard like those in the 45th deployed in Afghanistan, and a continued use of old equipment that in some cases dates to the Eisenhower administration. 

An important key to our defense strategy and success over the years has been a balanced approach that gives our armed forces the ability to fight across a broad spectrum of threats in multiple locations, simultaneously. Obama's new strategy threatens to upset that balance. 

In fact, Obama has his priorities backward. His approach is to start with a budget number and force our defense strategy to comply with that figure. Instead, the right approach is to first determine our national defense strategy based on global threats, force structure and acceptable risk. Then strive for a budget figure that best achieves that strategy, while providing peace and security to our nation and allies. 

The president says his new strategy is more realistic. What is realistic is that we live in a world that continues to become less secure and more dangerous. We have problem areas in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. While we should improve our partnerships and strengthen military relationships in the Pacific region, shifting the U.S. security focus solely on Asia, as the president wants, is dangerous and ignores other threats. 

The Pentagon has endured cuts and drawdowns before like those prior to the Reagan administration and again during the Clinton administration. However, Obama's cuts and the accompanying shift in strategy are unprecedented, especially during a time of unrest. These cuts mean the Pentagon will be forced to drastically cut personnel numbers and potentially cut programs such as the F-35 and the littoral combat ship. It means delaying the next-generation ballistic missile submarine, terminating the next-generation bomber, and eliminating the entire ICBM leg of our nuclear triad. 

While it is too soon to know how these cuts will impact the integral role Oklahoma plays in our national defense, we could be faced with significant impacts at all our military installations. 

Defense spending didn't create our budget crisis. Even if the entire defense budget was zeroed out, our nation would still be crippled with debt because of endless bailouts, the failed stimulus and runaway entitlement spending. The only thing significant defense cuts will accomplish is an increased risk to our national security with decreased global stability. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” 

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.