Flying Blind

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When the Obama Administration took over in January, along with a few new faces in the US congress, there were sure to be changes in how the government does business. Soon after, Defense Secretary Gates, kept on by Obama despite being a Bush appointee, presented a proposed defense budget that called for cutting back on some programs. (programs, not necessarily military spending, that remains higher than anytime in history) The proposal got some press as it called for cutting things like missile defense, C-17 cargo planes, and the F-22 program. The main point of this move was to scale back or cut extremely expensive programs who’s goals are purposes never really materialized. It wasn’t the reduced military spending overall that alot of people who voted for change had hoped for, but it was a small step towards reigning in a government that spends record shattering amounts in the name of defending the homeland.

Then came the month of June and statements by certain members of the Senate Armed Forces Subcomittee’s. The most loud among them being Saxby Chambliss of Georgia*. In his frequently quoted statement earlier this month, Chambliss declared the budget with its reduced spending on certain programs like the F-22 fighter “puts execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near to mid term.” This high risk he points to is because out of the 2,286 fighter jets the US Air Force has, the budget calls for the fleet of F-22’s to be kept to 187. The Air Force agrees with Chambliss, they want 380 at least. According to Chambliss’s reasoning, these planes are important in case – and I’m paraphrasingnations like North Korea, Iran, or Venezuela use surface to air missiles against American military aircraft.

I’m throwing around alot of numbers and military jargon, I realize, which may seem trivial at first glance. Yet if you look at it, this is the state of things in the US congress. A congress that is supposed to help bring about change you can believe in. Where 187 of the deadliest fighter jets on planet earth are not enough for an Air Force that already has over 2,000 fighter jets. Where an elected official sits in a position of power to make decisions about war machines to be used in imaginary conflicts with nations he believes are interested in fighting a war with the United States.

Kind of hard to imagine change of any kind in such circumstances.

*F-22 parts are manufactured in Georgia.