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MilBlogger's Conference – The Impact of Defense Budget Cuts

I attended the MilBlogger’s Conf in Arlington on May 12. It turned out to be a very interesting event. They were focused on military personnel, military spouses, and military issues. The attendees were animated, it was a relaxed atmosphere and it was a family-like environment.

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.) was the keynote speaker. He exhorted the audience to understand that they are making a difference. Bloggers that have military experience and connections may not know all the answers, but they are among the few folks asking the right questions. Forbes noted that most people in Washington are only asking, “How can we cut spending in the military?” They must ask, “What is the effect on the security of these cut?”

The 66 percent of people who want to see defense cuts have no idea what those cuts might mean. Referring to Veterans’ issues, Forbes also made the point that we have no credibility in promising better things through new programs if we are reneging on promises we have already made to those who fought for us in the past.

Responding to a question on sequestration, Forbes pointed out that while he was very concerned about all the cuts recently made and those pending, that was not his only worry. The main concern is that none of these cuts were made based on a valid strategy analysis. The cuts all came from artificial budgetary numbers. Today, instead of strategy driving the budget, the budget was driving the strategy.

A second questioner asked if the United States could continue to afford an all-volunteer military. Forbes simply answered that we could not afford to not maintain the all-volunteer force. It is simply the best manner to defend this country. Any other methodology (such as a draft) would produce a lesser capability.

Forbes reminded everyone present that most Americans (and a lot of legislators) simply do not understand that cuts to the military will actually have consequences. Cut X number of military personnel, and it not only sends X number of people back into the civilian work force. It leads to closures of business from the barber shop near an installation to the defense contractors. That is on top of the more obvious issues of China soon having more ships than we have and fighter planes that are older than their pilots.

One commentator noted that a year ago, no one was asking the questions or discussing the issues Forbes has made his forte. He should be congratulated.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More