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Most Americans are not aware of this, but in the last decade our
military forces have been drastically reduced. The most common excuse
for this has been to say that our forces have been cut because we no
longer need them.

Because this fallacious line of thought has prevailed, the Navy has
lost four carriers and around 150 surface combat ships and submarines;
the Air Force about eight fighter wings; the Army about nine whole
divisions; and the Marine Corps about 25 percent of its 1988 warfighting
capability, according to government figures. In total, our force
structure has been cut about 45 percent overall in the last decade
alone.

What is less reported, however, is the increase in threats we
face as a nation at the same time we’ve decreased our ability to defend
against them. In fact The Baltimore Sun
reported just yesterday this increased threat based on a new report due
out next week, which follows another report on this topic issued earlier
this year.

Current published official Pentagon warfighting strategies, however,
don’t acknowledge this imbalance. The Pentagon’s strategy (depending
upon whom you speak with) of fighting two simultaneous regional
conflicts is still widely accepted and promoted from within, even though
it is more of a farce than assuming Bill Clinton has a clue about the
proper role of the military. Worse, there appear to be no plans on the
fast track to reduce the threats mentioned in these damning reports.

As a matter of duty, it is reasonable for Americans to question
current U.S. warfighting strategies and capabilities, and to examine
whether or not those plans are conducive to the present level of
military force we can bring to bear when and where it may be needed.

First, some history. When the Pentagon developed this two-front
strategy, planners had a great deal more to work with than they do now.
In Europe alone — where, in 1988 some 215,000 American troops were
stationed — there are now only about a third as many, and lots of those
units have complained they are suffering from equipment shortages and
various stages of “peacekeeping” mission creep.

In 1999, it is a much different story. We still have the same
Pentagon two-front strategy but we have drastically reduced our ability
to fulfill this requirement. Worse, we have not reduced our military
capabilities for the right reasons.

Because liberals in the Clinton administration hate the notion of
spending any more on defense than is “absolutely necessary,” the entire
nation has been put at risk. To be fair, though, it is on that
predicate of what is “absolutely necessary” that I will make my
arguments for increased Pentagon funding.

First and foremost it is “absolutely necessary” that we build and
field a national missile defense system. We know from several examples
– the most recent is North Korea — that our country now faces more
threats from ballistic missile launches than we honestly faced from
fairly reasonable Soviet governments during the Cold War. More “rogue
nations,” as we like to call them, possess the ability to build and
deliver ballistic missiles tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear
warheads to our shores than ever before, yet Clinton and his nonsensical
gaggle of liberal arms control “experts” still say the expenditures
needed for national missile defense do not fall under the “absolutely
necessary” category.

Secondly, it is “absolutely necessary” for Congress to get serious
and pass bipartisan veto-proof legislation to increase funding for troop
training, spare parts, ammunition, basic weapons production, and all the
nitty-gritty essentials that make a military force capable of operating
long term. When a superpower begins to run out of precision-guided
munitions, has to rob spare parts from other functioning systems to keep
broken ones in service, has to put its troops on welfare and has to
reopen a production line just to build new tanks, something is wrong
with the supply end of this demanding responsibility.

Third, it is “absolutely necessary” for Congress to authorize
increased troop strengths, air force fighter wings and naval ship
construction now while it can — before it is forced to play “catch up”
later when we’re actually being attacked. The philosophy is simple: It
is stupid to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Granted, the easy answer to this dilemma would be simply to require
the Pentagon to come up with new warfighting strategies that were more
modest. But that idea ignores the threats we face. Just because we
develop a more modest plan doesn’t mean our enemies will play by our
rules and attack us only according to our current capabilities to defend
ourselves. In fact the weaker we are, the more enticing a target we
become. Weakness has, historically, always invited such attacks by
stronger foes.

So the obvious answer becomes increasing our capabilities to meet the
realities of the world. That’s “Foreign Policy 101″ and it’s not that
difficult to figure out.

The most daunting task facing any new presidential administration
will be to convince the American people that national defense is
important and more resources need to be allotted for it. It’s only our
survival we’re talking about.

It would be nice to not have to spend huge portions of our national
budget on defense matters and in a perfect world, defense wouldn’t be an
issue. But our world is far from perfect, and it is getting increasingly
dangerous. It’s time for everyone to question the current balance of
force the Pentagon is officially prepared to employ against the range of
threats that outnumber our abilities.

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