In a YouTube video that is getting linked around the conservative blogosphere, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) attacked Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ 2010 defense budget recommendations, though he aimed his criticism at President Obama instead of Gates. Speaking from Afghanistan, Inhofe declared that “President Obama is disarming America. Never before has a president so ravaged the military at a time of war.”
Specifically, Inhofe charged Obama with cutting funding for “our troops in the field during an ongoing war”:
President Obama’s budget, the largest in the history of America, triples the public debt in 10 years, funding every welfare program imaginable, but cuts funding for our troops in the field during an ongoing war.
Here in Afghanistan, while the war is intensifying and the number of US forces increases at the direction of President Obama, he undercuts those he sends into harm’s way. It is not just unbelievable…it is unconscionable.
Needless to say, Inhofe’s over-the-top rhetoric about undercutting American soldiers in Afghanistan is ridiculous. As the New York Times notes, while Gates called for “deep cuts in many traditional weapons systems,” he added “new billions of dollars for others, along with more troops and new technology to fight the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
In his press conference announcing his budget plans, Gates notes that his reforms shift “resources and institutional weight towards supporting the current wars and other potential irregular campaigns.” Here are a few examples of the budget increases that will directly affect the troops in Afghanistan:
– An increase in “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support for the warfighter in the base budget by some $2 billion.”
– An additional “$500 million more in the base budget than last year to increase our capacity to field and sustain more helicopters – a capability that is in urgent demand in Afghanistan.”
– “To grow our special operations capabilities, we will increase personnel by more than 2,800 or five percent and will buy more special forces-optimized lift, mobility, and refueling aircraft.”
As Max Bergmann points out at Democracy Arsenal, “this budget represents a clear move toward a more balanced strategy and is a dramatic departure from the strategy of ‘transformation’ that the Bush administration blindly pushed under the leadership of Secretary Rumsfeld.” Additionally, the Gates budget never actually “cuts funding for our troops.” As Bergmann notes, “base spending on defense this year rose by more than $20 billion.”