Letter to the editor: Considerations of military spending


SPC Kristina Truluck Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Enduring Freedom

Nicholas Royer

In his recent column, “Put a Stop to Wasteful Military Spending,” Anthony Bader makes several key assumptions, leading me, at least, to entertain the possibility that his column stems more from politics than from a careful consideration of facts.

Bader repeats the often-used figure that the United States spends more on the defense department than the next 10 largest spenders combined. While not necessarily inaccurate, Bader’s use of this figure lacks the necessary context. The next 10 countries on any list of military expenditures, typically including China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Japan all lack the extensive range of global military commitments the United States has.

American bases across Asia, Europe and the globe bolster the defense of our partner nations, often with the effect of allowing the host nation of an American military presence to spend far less on its own defense than might otherwise be the case.

Take the case of Bader’s vaunted health care systems in Sweden, France and the United Kingdom, for instance – the American presence (and subsequent cost to the American taxpayer) in these regions during the Cold War acted as a shield of sorts against potential war with Russia, allowing such nations to expand their welfare states in the shadow of the American military.

Simply stating that the United States spends more than the next 10 nations combined, then, ignores the pivotal role the United States has come to play in ensuring global safety and security for far more than our own citizens.

Mr. Bader also makes much of the (admittedly deplorable) levels of student debt in the United States, noting, correctly, that such debt exceeds $1 trillion. However, Bader ignores the sad reality of defense budget cuts – in the event of cuts beyond the already extensive “sequestration,” the brunt of the blow will not fall on necessary upkeep of machinery or maintaining a force prepared for the current global security situation. Instead, the benefits, pay and educational opportunities available to millions of Americans will be gouged.

Already, the availability of tuition assistance programs for Lance Corporals and below in the Marine Corps (representing 47 percent of the force, and the bulk of first-term enlistees), for example, has been cut, denying individuals who might not otherwise be able to pay for college classes the opportunity to gain valuable opportunities for professional advancement and a successful transition to a civilian career.

I would invite Anthony Bader to speak with the average enlisted soldier, sailor, airman or Marine and ask them about the “lavish” benefits they are receiving, debt-free lifestyles and state-of-the art equipment they are sent into combat with. Bader might find the results illuminating.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Bader that everyone should have a shot at an education, those who have actually been shot at in the defense of us all, including Bader, deserve a chance to advance professionally, be fairly compensated for their service and take advantage of the educational opportunities made available in their own country. Bader, it seems, would prefer that the defense budget be gutted, impairing America’s ability to defend its citizenry and keep faith with its uniformed personnel, instead shoveling funds into a massive welfare state already rife with the same type of accounting abuses and fraud Bader condemns in the Pentagon.