More than $110 billion dollars in spending cuts are scheduled to become effective on January 2, 2013, with half of them coming from defense spending. With operations ending in Iraq and troops coming home from Afghanistan, the Defense Department, as always, has a huge bulls-eye painted on its back when it comes to budget cuts.
Our country deserves and demands a more thoughtful approach to spending cuts, some other method besides going after an “easy target” such as defense spending. George Santayana (1863-1952), a well-learned man of letters and a philosopher, once wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yet time and time again, we find ourselves committing the same mistakes with the same disastrous results.
Those results can be counted by the growing number of headstones in our National Cemeteries. It is a national tragedy that needs to stop, and if this generation wishes to leave a legacy, it would be wise to wake up and heed the voices of our collective past.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan said: “If history teaches us anything, it is that a strong defense is the prerequisite to a lasting peace, the only credible deterrent against aggression.” Today we are faced with a hard choice to revive and stabilize our economic system while finding a way to pay for our first priority, our common defense. Without a strong national defense, there will be no hope of protecting any of the other programs and privileges we currently enjoy. As any news source relating the events of the day will attest, there still is and sadly, will always be, those who seek to do evil in the world. This is not the time to let down our guard.
A case in point is the venerable Patriot Missile Defense System, defined as “a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.” This system has been a mainstay of our defense strategy since it was adopted in 1981 and used in combat on live television in 1991 during the Gulf War. Arthur Kent was dubbed “the scud stud” as Patriot missile batteries lit up the night sky downing Saddam Hussein’s incoming rockets. The nation had a new national hero in the Patriot Missile, and it served us well during that conflict.
Today, there are 12 nations using the Patriot system, including The Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Japan. All countries that are on the front line of aggression in the real world in which we all have to live.
Through their farsighted investment in this defensive missile system, they have provided 90 percent of the $400 million Patriot modernization effort, making the cost to the American taxpayer minimal at best.
Since its combat use in 1991’s Gulf War, the Patriot System has improved and continued to be upgraded through millions of dollars in research and development that keeps its service and technological capabilities at a state-of-the-art level. Additional technological developments in radar achieved through the Patriot system not only have enhanced its capabilities but benefited other defense systems as well. As they say, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” -- the technological developments achieved in the modernization of this effective missile defense system continues to pay dividends across the board of our military defense. But all of these advancements depend on adequate and timely funding.
With the recent claims by Iran and their continuing escalation of their own missile capabilities while publically courting Cuban and Venezuelan leaders, now is not the time the time to retreat on a proven and effective defense system that is essential to our own ability to defend ourselves and those allied to us. It is an unfortunate truth but George Santayana also said: “Only the dead have seen the end of war."