- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2011

Kim Holmes’ recent opinion article wisely points out how unworkable further cuts to defense spending - beyond the $350 billion already slated - really would be (“Taking defense hostage,” Politics, Thursday).

Defense spending is already low by historical standards, accounting for just 16 percent of federal outlays, compared to 40 percent in 1970. Our investment budget - spending on research and development and procurement - is only a quarter of the overall defense budget and represents less than 5 percent of total federal spending. This is also well below historic levels.

Cutting another $600 billion in a “sequester” step would decimate our fighter jet, aerial refueling and unmanned aircraft capabilities - all of the programs that enabled us to execute the conflict in Libya with no U.S. casualties. A point that has been overlooked is the impact on the industrial base. If we don’t have a steady-state investment in new design and development, we’ll lose the ability to design and build new products. Our workforce will atrophy and our technological leadership will decline.

Further cuts to defense will do little to reduce the debt - but they could greatly compromise the technological superiority that gives our troops an unparalleled battlefield advantage.


FRED DOWNEY

Vice President, National Security

American Aerospace Industries Association

Arlington, Va.