GDP and Defense Spending

Jim Talent at NRO 19 Apr 07:

Talent in response to Time magazine article on the breaking of the US Army:

“The problem with America’s military is not that the Navy and Air Force got too much money (that is not true) or that the services have bought too much high tech equipment (they actually haven’t bought nearly enough).”

Talent states that there has been systematic underfunding since Clinton took office.
This is patently false. Clinton took office in 1993 two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. That precipitated a real opportunity to demobilize. 200 divisions and 40,000 tanks, and 10,000 fighter aircraft were no longer breathing down our necks in Eastern Europe.

Clinton had every reason to take a holiday from wasteful spending on the military.

Regarding Clinton Defense Budgets Talent states: “It cut modernization budgets and bought anywhere from 50-90 percent fewer “platforms” — ships, planes, and vehicles — than the military needed to maintain its capital stock.”

What is the strategic significance of “maintaining capital stock” when there is no enemy?

Later: “Instead, this year the government is funding the regular military budget (not counting day-to-day war expenses) at 3.3 percent of GDP, a very low level historically.”

It is misleading to think we should be spending the same amount of our GDP on military equipment when our enemy has no economic base. GDP is never a measure. Besides the rest of the world spend much smaller percents of their national demand.

Look at the other allies, also closer to 1% of their GDP.

So what should have been bought in the mid nineties? The F-22 was planned to be bought but it was failing all its tests and reasonably was delayed it. The MV-22 was also failing and delayed for cause. B-2 essentially lost its mission when the Soviet Union faded away. I suspect that B-2 also failed enough tests that it was stopped at 20 aircraft because it could not do the proposed mission had it continued to exist.

The Navy no longer needed ships to keep the sea-lane open against the Red Navy. There remains no high seas threat so the Navy is building a brown water mission area to keep buying ships.

The world situation today as in 1993 does not demand more money for high tech gear. The enemy is the hearts and minds of Islam.

None of which is intimidated by huge defense budgets.

There are no operational needs for the size of the Air Force and Navy we now sustain.

Time magazine is right Talent is wrong. But his bread is buttered by defense industry PAC’s