Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Note from the AFA President: Defense cuts must be strategy driven, Hero

AFA Members, Congressional staff members, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, as the Pentagon focuses on defense cuts AFA has stated that these need to be strategy driven – not just another budget drill.  For example, East Asia is a prime example of an area about which we should be concerned.  According to recent reports, Japan and others are worried about the new North Korean development of a mid-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Guam and about China’s development of a blue-water Navy. There is a growing dispute between China and its neighbors on the Spratly islands and surrounding waters. China claims jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea, including all of the oil and gas deposits within 600 miles from its shores. Various claims to island chains and shipping lanes have been made by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore. Vietnamese and Chinese boats have clashed twice in the South China Sea since late May.
As a result, Japan is strengthening its submarine fleet and coastal defenses.  China also recently announced plans to increase its defense budget by 12.7% this year.  [Yes … while we pare our defense budget in a time of war, the People’s Republic of China is expanding hers.]  China also announced it will build three aircraft carriers.  So far the result of China’s growing military and assertiveness in the area is closer ties between countries like Vietnam and the United States.  Our allies have come to expect and rely on America’s presence and support with our Air Force and Navy.  Any sign that that support could be reduced due to budget cuts will send the wrong message to our allies and ultimately result in an escalation of confrontations on the sea or in the air.  This amplifies what should be a centerpiece in our strategy – the need for our military to deter conflict in key regions of the world.  Perhaps we can make prudent defense cuts in these tough economic times.  However, we should be aware of the message these cuts will send if done without a strategy in place.
Secondly, I will continue highlighting those heroes in the Air Force who continue to fight for our security. The person I want to highlight today is Airman First Class Benjamin Hutchins, 82nd Airborne Division, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Tactical Air Command and Control Specialist.  You can find his story at: http://www.afa.org/Portraits/2010/Portrait_Hutchins.asp.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
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