Michael and Chris Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, discuss the military and the troop draw-down, implications for the budget and military expenditures, the OCO Budget, and many more things!
Preble opines, “[t]he first mission of any country’s military should be defense. And, I think our military is … eminently capable of defending the United States from direct threats. Of course, they’re aided by geography, which still matters, and we, here, our fortunate to be separated from the east and west by wide oceans, and the north and south by relatively friendly and peaceful neighbors. That’s always been the case.” (9:43)
“So much of our military now is geared to defending other countries that could defend themselves.” (10:27) Preble advocates alliances and diplomatic relationships based not on the premise that we defend them, but that they defend themselves. He preaches deterrence, including nuclear deterrence, but a scaling back of the nuclear arsenal. He mentions some prior work on deterrence and the work of his colleague, Ben Friedman, on the Nuclear Triad, and also a collaboration between Preble, Friedman, and Matt Fay called “The End of Overkill, Reassessing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy.”
The two discuss cyber, militarization of space, the Navy’s Littoral combat ship program, his disappointment with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and hopeful paper he wrote in 2002 when the program seemed as though it would be promising. He concedes, that “t]he end result [of the F-35 project] is, we’re going to buy, still, probably a few thousand of these aircraft … They are very costly. There are still some very serious concerns about their performance … “ (21:59) He cites issues with the version for air craft carriers with launching and landing, avionics concerns, problems short takeoff and vertical landing, carrier restrictions of allies. He concludes, there are “just a lot of problems with this … this whole program. It is the … most expensive expensive procurement line item in the budget and likely will continue to be. … One of the real problems is because our allies have a much smaller procurement budget, it means that they will be buying fewer aircraft — or none at all — and that means that the costs will be borne disproportionately by American taxpayers and we don’t to the economies of scale that we hope for. So, it’s an unhappy story. I’d like to believe that we willll get out of this an learn something from it. But, I’m afraid … I think this is one of those situations .. I fear, that’s it’s a too big to fail sorta thing. And, I hate that phrase … as it’s applied to the nation’s banks, but I also hate it as applied to the nation’s aircraft. (22:57).
You can buy Chris’s book published by Cornell University Press, The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free, which Chris bemoans is still a relevant subject today.