Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No Room in Obama's Budget for Modernizing Defense Systems

Apparently, Barack Obama has enough money in his budget to fund just about every spending proposal under the sun, except when it comes to matters of defense:
The White House has given the Pentagon guidance to delay procurement of aerial refueling tankers by five years and cancel plans for a new long-range bomber, according to three sources close to the discussions.

No final decisions have been made, and the recommendations are part of negotiations between the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department over possible budget trade-offs this year, the sources said...

[However], inside the military, the prospect of a delay in the tanker program and a cancellation of the long-range bomber is seen as a dangerous gamble that current fleets can be maintained despite their age.

“Next-generation tanker and bomber decisions today will have tremendous impact on our security in the future — and on America’s continued role as the world’s sole superpower,” said one senior Defense official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss budget matters.
In July of 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized the pressing need to field new refueling tankers, saying "there are few procurement programs in the department that are as time-critical."

And several weeks ago, Reuters reported as follows:
The U.S. general in charge of transportation needs for the U.S. military said on Wednesday that replacing the aging fleet of KC-135 aerial refueling tankers was his No. 1 modernization priority.

Any further delays in replacing this aircraft would add significant risk to the U.S. military's ability to move troops and firepower rapidly to a combat zone, U.S. Gen. Duncan McNabb, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, told a joint hearing of the seapower and air and land forces subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee...

"Further delays in replacing this aircraft will add significant risk to our ability to rapidly project combat power to support the nation and our allies," he said.
But I suppose Barack Obama is merely fulfilling his campaign pledge to eliminate "wasteful spending" on matters of defense:

Aerial refueling tankers? Long-range bombers? Hey, that's nothing but pure pork!

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