Learning From the Greatest Generation

A recent editorial published in the Richmond Times Dispatch by IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger and Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) President Marion C. Blakey warns of grave threats to the nation’s national security if Congress allows the tsunami of across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration” to go forward.

Recalling the lessons learned when America’s industrial engines were idled in the years prior to WWII, Buffenbarger and Blakey say it is “absolutely unconscionable” for this generation to relearn the lessons that proved so costly just seven decades ago.

Describing sequestration as “a dangerous scheme” of across-the-board reductions that experts say would decimate our economy at home and our military might abroad, the pair warn that sequestration will cut another half-trillion dollars from the Department of Defense, which is already working to absorb $487 billion in cuts over the next decade, as well as imposing heavy across-the-board cuts on most “discretionary” programs.

“Both our battlefield capabilities and our industrial base are being needlessly placed at risk,” say Buffenbarger and Blakey. “Sequestration, a four-syllable word for mindless spending cuts, threatens to put a million more Americans out of work, close down defense production lines and handicap our military for decades.”

According to DOD, sequestration will shut down virtually every major modernization program — from stealth fighters to intelligence satellites to ships the Navy has been waiting on for years. These cuts will leave our aerial and naval fleet smaller and older than any we’ve fielded since World War II, and our military dependent on aircraft designed and in some cases built three, four, even five decades ago. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the cuts would generate “unacceptable risk” to our combat troops; his deputy called it “assisted suicide” for our military.

“Sequestration is the easy way out, not the smart way forward,” say Buffenbarger and Blakey. “Let’s keep investing in the war-fighting technologies that will protect our nation and the jobs of Americans who manufacture them.”