Military at Risk With Aging Equipment

The Wall Street Journal has a great story today about the severe difficulties the military services face because of aging equipment. The lead anecdote says it all:

When Lt. David A. Deptula II, an Air Force pilot, climbed into his fighter plane at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan in 2008, it wasn’t the first time a pilot named David Deptula had been at the controls. Lt. Deptula’s father flew the very same F-15 when it was fresh off the McDonnell Douglas Corp. assembly line 30 years earlier.

Similar problems afflict all the services because the Pentagon took a post-Cold War procurement “holiday” in the 1990s. All of our primary weapons systems today date from the Reagan military buildup of the 1980s or even earlier, and they are becoming antiquated and worn out. Replacing them will cost tens of billions of dollars. But instead of adding more spending for procurement, Congress is radically slashing the defense budget. Already this year we have seen more than $400 billion in cuts, and we could see another $600 billion this fall. Those cuts (which are to be made over ten years) will make it impossible to recapitalize our armed forces; they will, in fact, make it impossible to carry out many of the missions the military services perform today.

Anyone who claims the armed forces can get along with less money should read the Journal article and then explain how we can keep using antiquated equipment for decades to come. The answer is we can’t—at least not without putting at serious risk the men and women who are on the frontlines.