…Our Enemies Build Theirs Up
By Harold Hutchison
AN ALARMING REPORT
Recent news about the effects of the sequester have been damning: One carrier’s deployment has been delayed, and another carrier’s overhaul is on hold. The Army and Air Force are making their own cutbacks, and the term “hollow force” is becoming a topic of conversation again.
Has the world become more peaceful? Not exactly. Have America’s adversaries given up? Why don’t you look at some numbers from a FoxNews.com report, and decide? “Russia is set to surpass U.S. defense spending -- when looked at as a percentage of GDP -- in just two years. By the same measure, China is slated to surpass the U.S. in 2035,” the report states.
Now, while the United States still has a larger GDP than either country, it shows a lot about the priorities that Obama has. Defending this country, supporting our troops by getting them sufficient quantities of proper equipment, and taking care of our veterans who have sacrificed for this country don’t seem to be high on his list.
A CLOSER LOOK
"You've seen double-digit increases in Chinese defense spending for more than 15 years now," Jim Thomas, with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told FoxNews.com. "And that really should not only give pause to the United States, but it really should be a source of concern for the countries in the region as well." In addition to its navy – which it is using aggressively in the South China Sea – China is also trying to deploy fifth-generation fighters, which have already had prototypes fly far sooner than expected.
China’s not been the only adversary building up its military. Take a look at Iran. "These guys have been going gangbusters rolling out prototypes of advanced weapons systems, whether it is new missiles, new aircraft, new drone aircraft," Thomas noted in the FoxNews.com report. Now, analysts admit that it's hard to tell how whether these systems are for real or if they’re just bullshit, but America has been caught by surprise before – notably by the capabilities of the Mitsubishi A6M – better known as the Zero.
Russia has also not been quiet either, agreeing to a deal with France to build a number of Mistral-class helicopter carriers. Russia is also pursuing fifth-generation fighters, and they have widely exported the Su-27 and MiG-29 families of aircraft – and some of those who have purchased those planes, like Sudan, Iran, and Syria are not exactly the most… responsible global citizens.
THE NUMBERS DROPPED
The fact is, the military has taken some serious hits since the end of the Reagan Administration. The ships may be more advanced, but the false promise of a “peace dividend” has hurt the military across the board. The Navy has arguably taken the worst of it.
Over the 24 years from 1987 to 2011, the Navy has taken the worst of it, dropping from 594 ships to 285. That is a drop of 52 percent. More than half the Navy’s force size has vanished. In 1989, the United States Navy had 15 carriers, today the number is 10. The number of cruisers has dropped from a high of 53 in 1993, to 22 today – a drop of 58.4 percent. The Army went from 18 divisions in 1991 to 10 today – a drop of 44.4%.
The Air Force prematurely stopped buying B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters, buying 20 and 187, when 132 and 750 were planned. The C-17, which performs well, has also seen procurement stop, and is only still in production due to export orders. The Marines lost the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – a system intended to replace the aging AAV-7 for amphibious assaults.
ACT, DON’T TALK
If there is any reason to halt the defense-related sequester, it is the state of the Navy. What is needed is a massive naval construction program to get the Navy’s force total higher – and closer to the 594 ships in 1987. The most important aspect of this has to be the carriers. They are America’s 911 force. Congress needs to keep carriers in service – and the first step has to be re-activating USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and to keep her in service until the Navy reaches the 15-carrier force level it reached in 1989.
The Air Force, Army, and Marines also need to get critical funding – and increased force structures across the board as well. America’s enemies, and those who enable them, are not resting. It is time for America to make “support the troops” more than just a slogan. It is time to act, not just talk, and get them the equipment, and the force structure that will enable them to succeed.