“It is not a peaceful time.”

In Speech to The Ripon Society, Armed Services Committee Chairman McKeon Warns Against Deep Cuts to Military in this Era of Global Uncertainty

WASHINGTON, DC – In a speech yesterday morning to a policy breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (CA-25) warned against making deep cuts to the U.S. defense budget in this era of global uncertainty, declaring matter-of-factly that: “It is not a peaceful time,” 

“I’m a strong fiscal conservative,” McKeon stated. “I know that cuts need to be made in defense just as in everywhere else. But defense accounts for 20 percent of our budget, and we took 50 percent of the savings out of defense. And that is just the first crunch. The $487 billion dollars that we’re working through right now — that’s not going to change much. But hanging over our heads now is sequestration – the second crunch.” 

“When we passed the Deficit Reduction Act, the idea was that the Supercommittee would come together and address entitlements. If we don’t do something about entitlements, it doesn’t matter what else we do. We could cut the whole discretionary budget, but we would still be running a deficit of about a half trillion dollars. So that is the real problem. It’s not the military — not the Defense Department. And we really need to get the focus back to where it needs to be, because that’s the runaway problem. If this were a peaceful time in the world, then maybe we could consider defense cuts of this magnitude. But it is not a peaceful time.” 

McKeon, who became Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee in 2009 and was selected by his colleagues to be Committee Chairman when Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010, also spoke about one of the main threats facing the U.S. and the world right now – Iran. 

“Most of the terrorism around the world,” the California Republican stated, “they are the ones fomenting it. They’re paying for it, training the terrorists, and providing places for them to train. And they are trying to build a nuclear weapon. They say they are building a power plant, but if you could see the way they are fortifying what they are doing, there really is not a reason to do that if you’re just building a power plant. They are so dug-in that it’s going to be very difficult to stop them. 

“I’ve had several briefings, and I have seen what the projections are. The Secretary of Defense went over to the Middle East and said that within a short time there will be bombs dropping on Iran. The President then said the other night that we shouldn’t be talking lightly about war. Yet it was his Secretary of Defense who made that comment. I think everyone understands that it is very serious, it is very close, and it’s been explained to me that if we don’t take action, the Israelis will. They will not leave their security in the hands of someone else. If we don’t act, they will. And time is running out.” 

As these and other global threats increase, McKeon continued, the ability of the United States to meet these threats has been diminished. 

“We have the smallest Navy right now that we’ve had since World War I — 285 ships. When I came to Congress, we had over 600. That was just 20 years ago. Now, I’m not saying that the ships we had in World War I could beat the ships that we have now. That’s ludicrous. But numbers also matter. The idea that maybe a ship can be in two places at the same time is not there yet. We haven’t worked out how to do that yet. So in this budget, they are taking down several cruisers that they are going to retire before their lifetime as a money saving thing, and we are going to replace them with ships that don’t have the same firepower. They are littoral combat ships. We need them. They have a different mission. They will be very helpful in the Straits of Hormuz to fight those little fast speedboats. But they’re not the same firepower as the cruisers we are going to be cutting back.” 

“We’ve really come a long way with our Special Forces, but you can’t win an all-out war with Special Forces. They have to have regular forces there just to back them up and provide the things they need to carry out their missions. There are some people who have gotten the mentality that we will never need a tank force again or an artillery force again, or that we will never need a long range penetrating bomber. When I came to Congress they were in the process of cutting back on the B-2. It was slated to be 130 planes. We fought and fought and got it up to 21. Now, studies show that we should have another 100 long range bombers. 

“Well, if we had built those when all the production lines were going, it would have been a lot cheaper than what we are going to do now — if we ever get it done. We had one on the drawing board, but we canceled it in last year’s budget. Now, we are starting another one. This start and stop wastes a lot of money.” 

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.