Brian Kalk, Bismarck, column: Obama's defense plan is a big step back
By Brian Kalk BISMARCK -- The Obama administration has announced plans to cut military spending and reduce our forces by some 90,000 soldiers and Marines. Some $500 billion is to be cut from the defense budget the coming decade. This is a mistake...
By Brian Kalk
BISMARCK -- The Obama administration has announced plans to cut military spending and reduce our forces by some 90,000 soldiers and Marines. Some $500 billion is to be cut from the defense budget the coming decade.
This is a mistake. As Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, "This ignores the lessons of history." The plan provides for a military that "is too small to respond effectively to events that may unfold over the next few years," McCain went on to say.
The plan will take us back to a pre-Sept. 11 level for our military. The world has not gone back to pre-Sept. 11conditions.
Our nation and our interests continue to be in danger, and the danger has increased because of decisions made by the administration.
Around the world, America's interests are in greater danger today than ever before. The upheavals in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, which were hailed by the president, have been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror groups. The gutting of our military sends the wrong message to those who would be our enemies, and it tells all that America is no longer a dependable ally.
It sends a message of weakness.
If you wish to reduce spending, the place to start is by cutting political appointees who spend more time trying to social engineer our military instead of adding to our security. We can also look at Germany; it is the most powerful economy in Europe. We have tens of thousands of troops there and several bases.
I doubt the Germans need us to protect them.
This plan has serious ramifications for North Dakota. Cutting our combat-ready strength means that when crises arise, National Guard soldiers will have to fill the breech.
North Dakota citizen soldiers have gone above and beyond the call of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and other hot spots; and they do it willingly. But there is a price to be paid. Our state loses their productivity at a time when North Dakota needs even more productive workers. Their families pay the highest price for their absence, but every North Dakotan also pays.
In the end, the defense budget looks smaller, but the money spent is the same. Government has many ways to hide actual spending.
To top it off, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process is looming again. The BRAC will look to close as many military bases as possible.
Given the political bent of the administration, this will not occur until after the presidential election. Closing strategic stateside bases such as Grand Forks or Minot makes very little sense when we should be closing bases around the world that have little or no value.
Cutting government spending is a necessity. We must get our economy moving again, balance our budget and reduce the national debt.
But, gutting our military and reducing our ability to defend our nation is, in the words of an old adage, "Penny wise and pound foolish."
As someone who spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, I know that defending America is Job 1. Sometimes, Washington needs to be reminded of that.
Kalk, a North Dakota public service commissioner, is a candidate for the GOP nomination for U.S. House.