- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

After reading his recent column on how the “Global War on Terror” has hijacked the national security function of our military (“Obama’s national security legacy may be the fall of America,” Web, Feb. 16), I am compelled to expand on Daniel de Gracia’s argument that we need to update aging military equipment.

In brief, the U.S. Air Force is smaller and older than it has been at any time in recent history, and experts predict that a significant shortfall of fighter planes will severely impair our ability to protect the United States and its global interests. The U.S. Navy has fewer ships now than it did on Sept. 11, 2001; our tanks date back to the 1980s. Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have run these planes, ships and vehicles ragged.

What’s more frightening than today’s overworked military? It could actually get worse, thanks to the defense cuts required by last summer’s budget deal. Totaling $1 trillion, these cuts would cancel any effort to replace retiring planes, ships or ground vehicles over the next 10 years, according to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

Meanwhile, Iran is building nuclear weapons. China is clearly building a blue-water navy that will challenge us globally. Russia is building a new stealth fighter. North Korea is building a mobile ballistic-missile launcher. And our national defense structure, from our industrial base to the planes, ships and tanks that are the elements of a rational national defense posture, is being deliberately felled.

While our principal adversaries arm themselves to the teeth, are we really going to base our national security on stern warnings backed by a hollow military?

REAR ADM. JOSEPH F. CALLO

U.S. Naval Reserves, retired

New York