Rarely before have we seen a bleaker picture for U.S. defense spending

The news hasn't been good for the U.S. defense budget. Prospects are gloomy for Congress to head-off automatic deep military budget cuts by the January 1 sequestration deadline; the Senate adjourned for recess without bringing the 2013 defense appropriation to a vote; and studies show that as many as 2.14 million Americans in all 50 states could lose their jobs if sequestration hits.

Sequestration is a fancy name for automatic defense cuts of about a half-trillion dollars over the next decade. These cuts will begin in less than five months if members of Congress don't agree to more controlled reductions in military spending. Signs are, they won't.

More likely, this Congress will let sequestration happen. I never believed it until now. Every member of Congress today is more concerned with the November elections than with heading off potential economic disaster at the Pentagon.

Allowing the automatic cuts to happen, moreover, gives everyone on Capitol Hill the political cover he or she needs to shirk responsibility for the automatic cuts and their results when these cuts take place. This, in the election season, is a political gift that no one in Congress on either side of the aisle can resist.

The bad news doesn't stop there. As the Senate skipped out on its collective responsibility to approve a fiscal 2013 Pentagon spending bill, prospects dimmed that any defense appropriation has a chance of getting approved perhaps until after the November elections-maybe even later.

Instead, Congress-as has become its common practice-will allow the Pentagon to operate on a six-month continuing resolution to keep the lights on until after the first of the year. Some in Congress say this continuing resolution will ensure stability in the Pentagon. Actually, it's anything but.

The Pentagon has money for half a year, not for a full year. That means no one will risk starting any new program, and the only contracts to be let will be for the short term. With sequestration looming, moreover, U.S. defense companies are making plans to cut their work forces starting as early as this fall. Stability? Doesn't look like it to me.

"Program managers are unable to initiate any new programs, procurement accounts are frozen, military bases will probably issue only short-term contracts, and training hours will be affected," say officials of the Association of the U.S. Army in a recent legislative update.

Automatic and arbitrary defense cuts are looming on the horizon, the Defense Department and the defense industry are paralyzed from lack of long-term financial commitments, and no one's willing even to acknowledge how U.S. military forces are contracting at an alarming rate.

This is the picture we face as a resurgent China gains influence in the Western Pacific, and as Iran marches ever closer to developing nuclear weapons.

MacKenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently that the U.S. Air Force hasn't purchased fewer aircraft in a year since 1916, and that the U.S. Navy's 286 combat and support ships is the smallest fleet since 1916.

I still can remember President Ronald Reagan's goal of a 600-ship Navy back in the 1980s. We've sure slid downhill a long way since then.

Can anyone remember when things were this bad for U.S. defense? I can't. We'll have national elections in early November, and I'm not sure if defense is even a major campaign issue.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

F-SIM-LDR ARINC 615A Data Loader

AIT's F-SIM-LDR, or Flight Simulyzer Loader, is a complete ARINC-615A Data Loader development kit...

cPCI-1760-SW-4

AceXtreme® Bridge Device - Smart Protocol Converter

DDC’s AceXtreme Bridge Device converts avionics messages in real time between Ethernet, MIL-STD-1...

Low Voltage Power Supplies for Avionics

Crane Aerospace & Electronics has over 50 years of experience in the design and manufacture of hi...

Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs)

As the world’s leading supplier of Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs) for commercial aircraft sin...

RAR-USB

The RAR-USB is an ARINC 429 USB 2.0 adaptor that provides up to sixteen totally independent recei...

DW 251

DW 251 has been developed for specific use in aerospace and aircraft electrical and wiring applic...

Aircraft gearboxes

Positronic's Front Runner Connectors

The Front Runner Series offers a multiplicity of connector features which makes it a first choice...

ANET1553 / ANET429 Ethernet modules

New Ethernet Avionics Databus solutions for MIL-STD-1553A/B and ARINC429 are available. Test & Si...

Related Companies

CES - Creative Electronic Systems SA

Has been designing and manufacturing complex high-performance avionics, defense and communication boards, subsystems ...

Boker's Inc

Boker's, Inc. can manufacture your flat washers, spacers and shims with an outside diameter from 0.080" to 12" and ma...

DLS Electronic Systems Inc

Provides EMC/EMI & Environmental testing to MIL-STD 461-A-F, MIL-STD 810 & RTCA DO-160-C-G, Boeing, Airbus FAA AC20-1...

MICCAVIONICS GmbH

Highly innovative, integrated time-critical solutions of an information mission management and command and control sy...

Speel Praha Ltd

Offers avionics systems, including aircraft monitoring systems, crash-protected solid-state flight data/cockpit voice...

Digital Systems Engineering Inc (DSE)

Harsh-duty ruggedized flat-panel display design and manufacturing for airborne, military, and marine surveillance app...

Astro-Med

Designs and manufactures ruggedized printers and Ethernet switches used in demanding military and defense application...

StacoSystems

Provides LED push button display switches and control solutions, subsystems, and rugged keyboards and keypads for com...

LAI International Inc

LAI International is a leading contract manufacturer of make-complete precision-engineered components and assemblies ...

Interpoint

Supplies high-density, high-reliability Interpoint microelectronics, DC/DC converters and EMI filters to the aerospac...
Wire News provided by   

social activity

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!


Mil & Aero Magazine

October 2014
Volume 25, Issue 10
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE