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House lawmakers appeal to Obama to stop defense cuts

House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler -- who sits in former HASC chair Ike Skelton's old seat -- and many other Republican defense advocates signed a letter to President Obama Thursday urging him not to make a deal that involves deep defense budget cuts. The letter, drafted by Hartzler, cites the ongoing wars and future threats the U.S. as reasons to keep the Pentagon's budget stable -- and it strongly implies that enough Republicans could oppose the bargain to keep it from passing.

Here's part of what Hartzler wrote:

We are a nation at war with men and women fighting in harm’s way on multiple fronts. We need to ensure that the soldiers of this nation are well equipped with every resource they need to protect the liberties we all enjoy. We need to send a clear message to the men and women fighting for our nation that this Congress will not sit by while your Administration makes unjustified decisions about defense funding.
She continues:
... [S]izable sums are being offered up without the necessary analysis of what our nation’s national defense obligations and priorities are, and more importantly, without any consideration for the risks they pose to our national defense. Given the shortfalls we already face today it is clear that further cuts to national defense will result in deep reductions in force structure that will leave our military less capable and less ready to fight in the long-term. This is a dramatic shift for a nation at war and a dangerous signal to our foes about our willingness to defend our national interest.

To make matters worse, you recently indicated in your Twitter town hall that any cuts in defense spending would not be applied to deficit reduction but instead would go to expand discretionary domestic programs: “But it's [the defense budget] so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of headroom to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that.” Your statement illustrates that proposed cuts to defense spending are not intended to address our historically high levels of deficit spending. To the contrary, these cuts to defense spending appear to be designed to weaken our national security in favor of more domestic spending.

Consequently, we are left with more questions than answers. What is the national security strategy of the United States going forward? What missions will our Armed Forces no longer conduct? How will we modernize our aging ships, planes, and war-worn field equipment? These cuts would decrease America’s ability to deter enemies at home and abroad. They will burden strained military families. They also constitute a marked departure from Congress’ constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense. This duty rests solely with Congress and thus deserves our utmost dedication. We urge you to protect a strong national defense while also seeking fiscal constraint in the vast array of programs run by the federal government.

Did you see what they did there? Secretary Gates' strategy strategy is now gospel across all defense circles. Defense advocates don't want all of this to happen so fast that even the Pentagon's Mother of All Reviews is obsolete before it's finished.
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