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How badly does sequester imperil the US military industrial base?

October 1, 2013

A long article in this month’s Air Force Magazine lays out the argument:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, laying out sequestration’s consequences in a late July press conference, said if the spending limits roll on into Fiscal 2014—which starts this month—they would trigger “a decade-long modernization holiday.”

The US military would not be able to replace obsolete or worn-out systems, “many of which are already near the end of their service lives,” Hagel said, and the nation could soon find itself overmatched by better-equipped adversaries.

“We … have to consider how massive cuts to procurement and research and development funding would impact the viability of America’s private-sector industrial base,” he warned.

Rising powers are closing the gap – China is only five years behind the US in aerospace technology, argues the magazine’s executive editor (and article author) John Tirpak (although, I have read other sources claiming China is a decade or more behind the US).  If the gap is that narrow, then a prolonged era of sequester could erase the technological advantage that Americans have long taken for granted.  Already, China may have changed the game by developing weapons and tactics which could obviate America’s traditional advantages.

While I agree with the need to get America’s fiscal house in order, it is time to put away the chainsaw that is sequester and to pick up a finer instrument for detail work.  I fear, however, that neither party sees the real danger (they each think it is each other).

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