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March 04, 2013

Yes, You Can Be Pro-Defense And Pro-Sequestration

The sequestration cuts were supposed to be so bad that no one would want to see it happen. The pressure point on conservatives and Republicans was supposed to be defense cuts. A funny thing happened though...plenty of conservatives looked at the cuts, shrugged their shoulders and said, it has to be done.

This has lead writers like William Kristol and David Frum to call out conservatives for letting the sequester happen.

Navy veteran and defense analysis Bryan McGrath (a good Twitter follow, despite his anti-hockey prejudice) explains why and how good pro-defense conservatives accept the sequester. In short: Priorities.

"The present state of our economy and the trajectory we are on with respect to government spending but especially entitlement spending, represents the most important threat to our long-term national security. We understand the requirements of citizenship and that taxes are the price we pay for a civil society, but we are increasingly uncomfortable with the growth of what government does and provides with the money we give it. We are the Party of a strong and rational national defense, and to that end, we have prioritized the threat. The threat is fiscal insolvency, and it must be addressed. We must retain a strong military, but not at the cost of a weakened country."

McGrath's piece is worth reading in full as he outlines the deterioration of the traditional national security coalition.

Just to be clear, there are real world choice involved in supporting sequestration. The most high profile to date is the cancellation of the deployment of a second aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Some will say it's pure politics but the DoD maintains it's simply good management to ensure we can have at least one carrier there at all times.

Personally, I don't care either way for two reasons.

First, the purpose of two carriers is to serve as a deterrence to Iran. Newsflash: we're not attacking Iran. The reelection of Barack Obama and the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense are far more clear signs of this than removing a carrier from the area is.

Second, too often people want to cut budgets but not missions. Well, that's how you break a force. If we don't have the money (and we don't) then we shouldn't take on the missions.

Yes, strategy should drive budgets and not the other way around but the reality is in a world of limited resources (aka, the real world) budget always drives strategy. You can always find bigger and better strategies that would consume 100% of GDP but the fact is, no one is allocating that money to defense so you begin with limited resources and go from there.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen (USN, Ret) called our debt, "the most significant threat to our national security" because of how it will impact military budgets. We're simply acting as if we believe him.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:04 AM

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