- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

President Obama began and ended his State of the Union speech last week by celebrating our armed forces (“State of the Union: Obama calls for taxes, investments,” Page I, Jan. 25), but his actual policies are putting the military at risk.

Next January, $1 trillion in automatic “sequestration” cuts will slash security budgets unless Congress and the president reverse them. But Mr. Obama didn’t even mention the issue in his address. With Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta warning that the cuts will undermine readiness and will kill virtually all new programs - including satellites, fighter jets, and the long-strike bomber that is decades overdue - what could be more central to assessing the state of our union?

Ironically, Mr. Obama trumpeted research innovation like the military-funded Internet - even though we’ve fallen to eighth place in research spending per gross domestic product, and now rank lower than nations like South Korea and Iceland. The looming cuts will only push us further down the ranks.

Last year, China boosted research spending by 9 percent - more than three times the U.S. rate of spending for research - as it pushes to catch us in stealth, satellites and drones.

It’s good to support our military with words. It’s more important to defend it with actions.

LT. GEN. E.G. “BUCK” SHULER

U.S. Air Force, retired

Columbia, S.C.