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Veteran Describes What Military Budget Cuts Really Look Like From the Streets of Iraq


The Heritage Foundation has released the first of their three-part video series during "Protect America Month 2012," profiling stories of courage that showcase why we must commit to protecting the United States in an increasingly dangerous world. In this first video, Iraq War veteran Col. Kerry Kachejian describes making his way around Iraq at the height of the raging insurgency while driving in an unarmored SUV.

Col. Kachejian is the author of “SUVs Suck In Combat" where he describes, as in his Heritage interview, being part of a unit who were unequipped with combat vehicles and needed drive through some of Iraq's most dangerous streets hanging personal body armor out the window to stop or slow down a AK-47 round from insurgents.

“Without armor, when you’re moving down an Iraqi road in a sport-utility vehicle, the one thing you have is speed,” Kachejian said. “So we would drive as fast as we could, sometimes 80 to 110 miles per hour. It was somewhat like a ‘Mad Max’ movie, rolling down the road in a sport-utility vehicle.”

Heritage Foundation scholar James Carafano has called the president's purposed military budget cuts as "a gift" to America's enemies.

“America’s military went into Iraq unprepared for the aftermath that followed because we had underinvested in defense for almost a decade,” Carafano said. “We took a peace dividend after the Cold War that cut too deep—compromised readiness and underinvested in the equipment and training our men and women in uniform needed.”

“When you come out of war,” Col. Kachejian said to Heritage, “there’s always a risk because of potential budget cuts that you’ll cut too far. You don’t want to cut so drastically that we wind up with a situation that we would up with after Vietnam, where much of the Army had money to go out and do physical fitness training, to wash their trucks and paint rocks. … We’ve got to have a ready and relevant military.”

The president's final budget request of his first term calls for $1.2 trillion in automatic 10-year spending cuts, half of which come from military programs, to kick in next January unless the White House and Congress agree to alternative savings.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said it would be irresponsible if Congress doesn't act to prevent the drastic military cuts agreed upon last August during the debt-crisis. These cuts call for defense cuts of $487 billion over a decade. After the so-called congressional "supercommittee" failed to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings, the automatic cuts kick-in next January.


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