The Defense Department is reportedly considering which military bases in the domestic United States to close down in the event Congress mandates such cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
“The Army,” reports the Washington Times, “could close some of its 1,000 research-and-development sites and perhaps some of its 11 depots and arsenals.” The Navy might consolidate more warships in fewer bases along the coasts.
The considerations are being labeled in the media as some sort of draconian scaling back of the enormous standing army in the country. But the scope of the domestic military establishment is enormous.
Only two of the 50 states – Rhode Island and New Hampshire – have no Army bases. And the major excesses in the research-and-development – like contracting tech researchers as various universities to develop drone technology down to the size of bugs – can hardly be considered legitimate for the defense of the country.
In fact, the military is dealing with excess capacity already. “Force reductions produce excess capacity, [and] excess capacity is a drain on resources,” said Pentagon spokesman Dave Foster. If Congress doesn’t authorize closing the bases, the Army “will be forced to retain installation infrastructure that will become excess to its requirements and thereby jeopardize spending on forces, training and modernization,” Foster added.
What actually ought to be on the chopping block is not just these military bases spread throughout the country, but the new generation fighter jet, for example, which is a giant boondoggle. The price for the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has just increased yet again and, as Winslow Wheeler at Foreign Policy writes, “It’s no secret…that the program — the most expensive in American history — is a calamity.”
Resistance to cutting the defense budget is perverse after a decade of excessive increases in military expansion. The national security budget for FY 2012 totals around $1.2 trillion, or approximately one-third of the entire budget. That’s more than the rest of the world combined.
The debate about defense cuts is very misleading. What is really at stake is reductions in the rate of growth of defense spending. True cuts are not even being considered.
The minuscule defense cuts being contemplated could easily target areas of waste. As a recent report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found, while the source of growth in annual defense budgets since 2001 has been mostly (54%) due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of the rest has been spent on wasteful superfluous weapons technology, bloated salaries and benefits plans, and expensive peacetime operating costs for the 900-plus military bases in 130-plus countries around the world. But Washington is committed to an ever-expanding empire.