While the new National Security Agency facility at Fort Gordon is positive news (“National Security Agency opens Fort Gordon facility,” March 5), Georgia’s economy and America’s national security will face real peril next year from an automatic, across-the-board $600 billion cut in defense spending known as “sequestration.”
Unlike the $450 billion in strategically selected cuts announced by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, this wave will indiscriminately slash almost every Pentagon program by 23 percent; the sequestration scythe won’t take national security priorities into account.
Fighter-jet modernization and combat-ship replacement will be wiped out, as will crucial investments in military research and development – the innovations that keep our brave troops a step ahead of their adversaries. China, Iran and North Korea prioritize military R&D; if we take our foot off the gas, they’ll close the gap.
Defense sequestration would force 1.5 million Americans out of work, including an estimated 25,000 in Georgia. So while they “hollow out” our forces, in Secretary Panetta’s words, these huge cuts also would wreck our economic recovery. Congress can avoid this sorry outcome by forestalling sequestration in favor of rational decision-making about budget priorities.
E. G. “Buck” Shuler
(The writer is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general.)