NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Defense Spending Decreases

December 23, 1996

Knowledgeable military analysts are warning that the U.S. may not be capable of achieving a victory comparable to that won in the Gulf War in 1990 at today's level of military preparedness.

They make these points:

  • An Army commitment like the 1990 war would exhaust its ten active divisions -- including those now deployed in Europe and Korea.
  • American air power is now a fraction of what it was during Desert Storm.
  • The Marine Corps is said to be approaching its threshold of effectiveness.
  • Since fiscal year 1985, military budgets have declined 35 percent.

Spending on Pentagon research and development has declined 57 percent and procurement spending is down 71 percent, analysts say.

  • Funds allocated to the Pentagon have increasingly been diverted to non-military programs -- such as U.N. peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq and Somalia.
  • Some $28 billion in Defense Department funds has been earmarked for environmental compliance and clean-up through fiscal year 1999.
  • Other funds are to be used for job programs to upgrade the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

Vital items in the military budget -- including funds for strategic and general purpose forces -- account for only 37 percent of its budget, down from 55 percent in 1962.

Even though the world continues to be a dangerous place, the Central Intelligence Agency budget has also been cut and its program focus diffused, critics warn. The bulk of CIA resources now goes for "global issues" -- including pollution, health, natural resources and endangered species activities.

Observers say that sagging preparedness levels are affecting military morale, with 17,000 enlisted soldiers now on welfare. In 1994, the Marine Corps failed for the first time in 15 years to meet its recruitment goals. And Air Force personnel are regularly deployed oversees for tours of duty considerably longer than the maximum recommended time limit.

Source: Casper W. Weinberger (former Secretary of Defense) and Peter Schweizer (Hoover Institution), "Flower Power," National Review, December 23, 1996.


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