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Monday, August 24, 2009

Missile Defense Cuts: Striking the Balance Between National Security & Fiscal Responsibility

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, our nation's missile defense budget is being slashed by 16%. Of particular concern is the fact that our ground-based program is being cut by an even more substantial 35%.

Todd Harrison, analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, stated: "no replacement or replenishment program could result in too few missiles to provide a basic level of protection, especially as these missiles are depleted over time from regular test launches."

These steep cuts, particularly in the anti-ballistic missile program on U.S. soil, put the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and national security concerns in the cross-hairs. Here are some potential solutions:

1. Increase funding for national missile defense, but cut back on overseas missile defense systems. Wealthy nations such as Japan and South Korea possess ample financial resources and technological expertise to provide their own missile defense. We should focus on upgrading and expanding our own technology- off our coasts and on our soil.

2. Reduce the size of our overseas military presence. With troops and other military-related personnel in approximately 130 countries, we're spending over $500 billion a year. Instead of policing the globe, perhaps we could station our troops in only the most strategic locations, saving us billions to spend on national missile defense and pay down trillions of dollars in debt.

3. Cut back on foreign aid. Instead of giving billions to dictatorial regimes around the world, why not utilize a portion of this savings to ramp up national missile defense?

4. Base missile defense funding on test performance. Those systems that perform consistently and successfully should receive further funding. Those that do not should be axed.

5. Make national missile defense a high priority in a balanced budget. One of the Federal government's most explicit, enumerated powers in the Constitution is to defend America. Spending trillions of dollars to bail out corrupt, inefficient, wasteful, and poorly managed Wall Street firms is not.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of solutions, but it can serve as a launching point for further discussion. How can America successfully defend itself from legitimate, existential threats without breaking the bank? What are some of your ideas?