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Thursday, Dec 7, 2023

Editorial—Spend defense dollars with care

The conclusion of the most exasperating presidential election in our history has no doubt bolstered the confidence of those involved in the defense industry.

George W. Bush’s victory last month should turn out to be a boon for those involved with the defense of our nation. And where defense spending is involved, San Diego is sure to benefit.

Manufacturing still ranks as our region’s No. 1 industry, but defense is firmly entrenched in second place. Indeed, defense analysts are giddy over Bush’s election, and the appointment of Colin Powell as secretary of state fueled further optimism that the military and defense contractors will benefit from sweeping changes at the White House.

We too are optimistic the Bush administration will see fit to properly fund matters involving the military. But we are not in an arms race here; rather than throwing money at programs like the B-2 stealth bomber , yes, Southern California would greatly benefit from its restart at a cost of $2 billion per aircraft , we think there are wiser ways to initially spend defense dollars.

We would prefer to see President Bush invest his defense budget in its decaying infrastructure. A prime example: the Navy’s fleet of ships in particular are in desperate need of repair.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton again belabored the aging equipment soldiers, sailors and Marines must work with. All with 40 percent fewer troops than a decade ago, he said, while carrying out a busier operations tempo.

Making sure the ships run and the jets fly is crucial. With that said , and it has become the military’s mantra , personnel must be well-compensated for the jobs they perform. As with any business, keeping people happy is the key to success.

We understand the military must remain on the cutting edge of technology. Spawar’s work in San Diego is a prime example.

Pay and benefits, as well as quality housing and health care, are dull and mundane issues next to such glitzy military programs as the Joint Strike Fighter jet. Yet, they is crucial to military readiness.

Fortunately, the Quadrennial Defense Review, which hasn’t taken place since 1997, is just around the corner. The congressionally mandated review, which determines our national military strategy and the forces needed to carry it out, should provide keen insight for the new administration to spend its $308 billion budget defense budget.

Our hope is its overriding finding pushes for much-needed repairs and a continued boost in wages. New toys are nice, but if aging transports can’t get them from point A to point B in a timely fashion, they won’t do much good, will they?

We believe the Bush administration will heed the call for enhanced military spending. As commander-in-chief, we also hope the president is sympathetic to the needs of those who serve under him, rather than mollify those on the outside with political agendas.


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