Top Seven Claims Why We Need to Increase Military
(And why they are wrong)
The Defense Monitor, Center for Defense Information,
1) You can't sustain the force called for under the Quadrennial
Defense Review which is capable of fighting two major wars virtually
simultaneously at current spending levels.
Answer: We don't have to. Many military experts feel that
the "Two Major War" requirement is unnecessary. In 1994,
then Secretary of Defense William Perry in testimony before Congress
said, "Nothing in our planning, nowhere in our planning do
we believe we are going to have to fight two wars at once...I
think it is an entirely implausible scenario that we would ever
have to fight two wars." Yet retaining this requirement has
clear budgetary implications. The National Defense Panel, which
reviewed the QDR, recommended rethinking the two war requirement,
stating in its report that the requirement was "in reality,
a force-sizing function. We are concerned that, for some, this
has become a means of justifying current forces."
2) While the United States spent billions on new weapons in
the early 1980's, since then we have allowed our procurement budget
to drop dangerously low. This has allowed the equipment currently
in our inventory to age.
Answer: There is no reason that we can't replace aging equipment
now with new buys of current systems, upgraded with the latest
technologies. They are proven systems, and are far superior to
those of other nations. No one is developing weapons as sophisticated
as those we are currently planning. We should use the opportunity
provided by the end of the Cold War to allow revolutionary technologies
to develop and mature, and decide how best to apply these technologies
to meet actual 21st century threats as and when new threats arise.
3) The Defense Department believes that a peer competitor
might emerge around 2010.
Answer: The Pentagon believes that no peer competitor will
emerge before then, and they can't be sure that one will actually
emerge even then. If it does, new, updated models of existing
weapons will more than suffice to meet this threat. Further, given
the lessons of the 1991 Gulf War, any nation seeking to challenge
our superiority will likely do it through "asymmetrical threats"
- identifying our possible weaknesses and developing ways to exploit
them rather than attempting to defeat us head-on. For instance,
given our heavy reliance on technology, a potential enemy might
seek ways to exploit vulnerabilities in our computer networks.
In the meantime, purchasing legacy weapons systems intended to
fight World War III will not help us to do the things we will
actually be called on to do in the 21st century.
4) Reducing the current size of our military force isn't an
option. The demands placed on the services by operations such
as Bosnia and the Persian Guy preclude any large reduction of
the force structure.
Answer: We can reduce the active duty military and still fulfill
our commitments around the world. A greater reliance on reserve
forces will cut operating costs. Additional units should be trained
in peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance to spread the burden
more evenly across the force. We should drastically reduce our
overseas presence (200,000 personnel in Europe, Japan and South
Korea), thus freeing up additional forces. We should look at alternatives
to using the military for certain operations such as humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief. And we can reduce the number of
personnel needed to support our troops in the field by reducing
Pentagon red tape and improving our logistical network. Each of
these steps will improve our capabilities and save scarce tax
5) As the world 's lone remaining superpower with an ambitious
foreign policy, it is necessary and right that we continue to
expend large amounts while other nations reduce their military
Answer: The United States is the only country that considers
the entire world to be our sphere of influence. We should not,
however, attempt to or feel obliged to respond to all instances
of violence anywhere in the world. Further, military force is
not the only way to respond to destabilizing situations, and in
some cases it is the worst possible way. We should be prepared
to support regional security organizations and the United Nations
in preventing or alleviating the effects of violence or other
events that may serve to heighten international tensions.
6) The military budget has been reduced 38% since 1985. We
don 't need to cut it further.
Answer: Such analyses of historical trends in U.S. military
spending are misleading for a couple of reasons. First, 1985 represents
the "highwater" mark of the Reagan era military buildup,
a buildup unprecedented in peacetime. Other than the Korean War,
military spending in 1985 was much higher than at any time since
the end of World War II, exceeding even the peak years of the
Vietnam War. Even though there have been 13 straight years of
inflation-adjusted cuts in annual military spending, in real terms
we are only just now getting down to the levels of the Carter
Administration. Second, during the Reagan and Bush Administrations,
the U.S. national debt skyrocketed from around $829 billion in
1979 to over $4 trillion in 1992. Meanwhile, while total global
military spending has decreased from $1.6 trillion in 1985 to
$784 billion in 1997, the U.S. share of the global military budges
has increased from 30% to 34%.
7) Military spending creates jobs.
Answer: As far as providing jobs, military spending is a much
worse investment than other federally funded programs. For example,
$ 1 billion spent by the Pentagon on weapons, supplies and services
generates 25,000 jobs. However, the same $1 billion would create
30,000 mass transit jobs, 36,000 housing jobs, 41,000 education
jobs, and 47,000 health care jobs.