The wrong mission

Will Panetta insist upon modernizing the Army’s helicopter fleet and other key weapon systems that our troops need to fight and win 21st-century conflicts? Fat chance. In fact, if anything, he’ll do the opposite.

“President Obama’s pick to lead the Pentagon made clear Thursday that he intends to continue cost-cutting efforts begun last year by Defense Secretary Robert Gates,” reports The Hill newspaper.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, whom Obama plans to shift to the Pentagon, vowed to maintain the strongest military in the world.

But, speaking at a White House briefing announcing Obama’s new national-security team, he sent a message to the defense establishment: The Pentagon will be “disciplined” in spending federal funds under his watch.

“It is time for tough choices,” Panetta said.

Gates started an internal budget-cutting drill last year that uncovered more than $100 billion in savings. Most of those savings were directed to hardware programs, with a smaller amount going to deficit-reduction efforts.

Obama has ordered the Defense Department to lead a “comprehensive” study of Washington’s national security missions and America’s role in the world.

It is likely that review will suggest missions the military believes it can shed to save money. Overseeing the completion of that study will be among Panetta’s first high-profile tasks, assuming he is confirmed by the Senate.

In other words, the loyal Democrat Party soldier, Leon Panetta, has been given his marching orders, he’s saluted smartly, and is now preparing to execute his assigned mission.

Unfortunately, it’s the wrong mission. Instead of cutting defense spending, we should be increasing it to at least four percent of GDP. This would ensure that we have the troops and the capabilities required to fight and prevail in myriad 21st-century conflicts.

Four percent of GDP is roughly one-half to one-third of what America spent on defense under President Dwight D. Eisenhower (a Republican) and John F. Kennedy (a Democrat), only Washington doesn’t know it. But America’s enemies do.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter @JohnRGuardiano.