Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Avoiding a hollow force

"Why else would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of staff of the Air Force call for spending at least 4 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, and two members of Congress introduce a joint resolution to that effect? ... The warning signs are there. ... The U.S. Air Force has some 2,500 fewer aircraft today than in the late 1980s, and the U.S. Navy fleet has less than half the number of ships it did then. Many of our weapons and systems are worn out or, worse, obsolete. ... The 'peace dividend' of the 1990s, coupled with the intense wear-and-tear on equipment, is creating a perfect storm. We're paying today's military bills at the expense of tomorrow's readiness. ... But unless Congress keeps the money flowing, our military could degenerate into a hollow force. ... Choices have to be made. ... The 3.9 percent of GDP we now spend on the core defense budget is far lower than during the Cold War and almost a full percentage point below defense spending in 1950", Kim Holmes and Mackenzie Eaglen at, 28 December 2007.

In effect, Uncle Sam has been "running out the mill" for years. That we do not use accrual accounting conceals actual military expenses.

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