DoD Furloughs: A Bad Idea at a Bad Time

April 14, 2013

The devastating impact on both America’s military preparedness and its national economy from the proposed furloughs of civilian Defense Department employees could not occur at a more dangerous moment. The move not only places a disproportionate burden on Defense personnel, it also jeopardizes the safety and the economy of the entire nation.

This attempted cost-saving maneuver has been employed by municipal governments across the United States.

In New York City during the 1970s, for example, budget deficits resulted in reduced infrastructure maintenance personnel hours. It became rapidly apparent that the expense resulting from damage to subway cars, buses, bridges and other assets exceeded any sums saved.

The United States has not faced an equally hazardous international environment since 1945. Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, a reasonably united collection of allies including a militarily superior United States, Western Europe, Turkey, a variety of Pacific nations and a Chinese regime wary of Soviet intentions fairly well ensured that initiating combat would prove too risky for Moscow. Currently, Washington faces a confident and aggressive China armed with a first-rate military; a Russian government rapidly enhancing its armed prowess while resuming patrols in the air and sea around the U.S.; and openly hostile and increasingly nuclear-capable governments in North Korea and Iran. Of course, there is the ever-present threat of terrorism.

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