Will Defense Cuts Leave U.S. Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack?

| by Heritage Foundation

By Erin Van de Voorde

“The Department of Defense is not what’s causing the debt and the deficit. It’s the entitlement programs,” says former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in an interview with Human Events.

Rumsfeld goes on to say that if the U.S. makes the mistake of cutting defense, the country will be facing another attack and the country’s intelligence will be weakened.

This is nothing new—Rumsfeld joins the ranks of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, current Secretary Leon Panetta, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who have all sounded the alarm of real and dangerous consequences that the nation would face with further defense cuts. If all of these senior government officials are on the same page, why is defense still on the chopping block?

President Obama already cut $400 billion from the defense budget. On top of that, the recently enacted Budget Control Act seeks to cut another $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years if the Joint Select Committee can’t agree on a plan to reduce the budget deficit. Failure to achieve the needed savings would automatically trigger defense spending cuts with “devastating effects” for national defense, as Panetta has argued.

These cuts would drastically cut what the military will be able to do in the future. For instance, if the Joint Select Committee fails to reach an agreement, “the number of Army battalions will go from 100 to about 60 battalions. The number of Navy ships will go from 288 to 238—a reduction of two Aircraft Carrier Battle groups. The Air Force would lose more than 400 fighter jets and about 34 strategic bombers.”

Taking resources from the military is not the right step forward in fixing federal debt and cutting spending or preserving American prosperity and security.

An excellent guide on how to fix America’s entitlement programs to make them effective and affordable—while balancing the budget over the next 10 years without raising taxes—is Saving the American Dream: Heritage’s Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity.