What’s the Biggest Threat to our National Security: Chuck Hagel or Debt?

What’s the Biggest Threat to our National Security: Chuck Hagel or Debt?

The good news: We’re not at war. The bad news: We’re not at war. It’s peace-time, says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and we need a military budget that reflects that. What does that mean?

We’re faced with deep cuts in defense spending that’s going to affect our men and women in uniform. That’s personnel cuts and changes to military pay and benefits among other cutbacks. And then there’s that question of how Chuck Hagel’s budget cuts will affect our national security overall.

Will these cutbacks affect our nation’s readiness to face future threats? Will they undermine our status as a superpower? If we herald back to Reagan’s era, spending itself was considered a weapon. His “Star Wars” initiative helped bankrupt the Soviet Union by drawing them into a costly arms race. But does being the number one country for defense spending in this day and age keep us at the top of the game… or sends us deeper into the red?

This game tactic doesn’t work if we go broke first before the enemy does.

Military spending in the U.S. far exceeds any other country by a wide margin. If these statistics are to be trusted, the U.S. is responsible for 39% of the world’s military spending. And our closest competitor? China at 9.5%. That’s a wide margin.

In comparison to other countries, we spend a lot on defense spending and where are we getting the money for this?

As Sen. Paul puts it, we were waging war across the Middle East on a credit card.

The biggest threat to our national security may not be terrorism, but debt. It’s been three years since that statement by retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it still rings true.

That might be the case, but no one likes the idea of cutting our military back. In fact, roughly 70% of Americans, according to Pew Research, either want the budget to stay the same or to be increased.

However, let’s not forget the huge amount of government waste that occurs at the Pentagon. It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about Auditing the Pentagon. Just skim through U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla) “Wastebook” and you’ll see what we mean.

 [Many of Coburn’s Wastebook projects in 2013] come from defense spending, like Congress’ continued funding of the C-27J planes – after the Air Force told Congress it didn’t want them.

According to the Wastebook, many of the planes are sitting unused at an Air Force Base in Arizona – costing taxpayers $432 million.

Then there’s the military’s decision to destroy more than $7 billion worth of equipment in the Middle East, rather than sell it or ship it back home.

“If you wanted to save a $100 billion a year at the Pentagon you could do it without any difficulty, without affecting our readiness our training or our supply,” Coburn said. (News On 6)

No one wants to be the guy sending our troops home without jobs or cutting off the lifeblood to towns with the closure of military bases. It’s a tough call. Chuck Hagel’s making it with his proposed budget cuts. And no one likes it. How is the U.S. going to get out of this endgame with debt? Got any ideas? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.


(Photo courtesy of Secretary of Defense, via Flickr Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)


WATCH: Historic Look at the Military Budget from NYT
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