Monday, June 15, 2009
After attending a regional security summit in Singapore, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, had to ground his own plane because of mechanical difficulties. That incident may be a metaphor for what Gates is doing to today’s military. The Secretary is funneling resources to Iraq and Afghanistan, but cutting back elsewhere to keep defense spending down. Over the long term, the readiness of the force will suffer for this trade-off.
Gates has also pared back investments to deal with future threats, canceling for example the program to develop a future bomber. This came after Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz told Congress that some form long-range strike was “an important part of the [Air Force] portfolio.”
The Air Force has to have, the chief insisted in a presentation at The Heritage Foundation last week, some capability between modern fighters like the F-22 and F35 and ICBMs. He has since declared the service will have to find some way to develop this capability, despite the proposed cuts to the 2010 budget.
Looking at the administration’s long-term plans for funding defense, however, it is difficult to see where the Air Force and the other services will find the resources to maintain readiness, much less develop the new capabilities needed to protect America in the future.
Norton Schwartz (along with "Sully") was a classmate of mine at USAFA. "Norty" was an International Affairs major and I was a Political Science major so we took several courses together and were cadet leaders at the same time. He's really a good guy, an old C130 pilot like myself, and a marathoner. Plus, I like the way he "pushes the limit" with his haircut - something we both did at the Academy. It's good to have some common sense at the top (for a change). Once again I achieve "fame" by living vicariously through a classmate.