WARNER ROBINS -- Former U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall said Thursday that making cuts to the military will not help America’s budget problems in the long run because it will lead to world instability that would harm the economy.
Marshall is one of 10 people appointed by Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense to review long-term plans for the military, which includes assessing risks and setting spending priorities.
Marshall spoke Thursday to about 80 people at the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base about the panel’s findings on the Quadrennial Defense Review. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was among those in the audience.
Marshall said the panel concluded that the 2011 Budget Control Act that led to mandated cuts in military spending was a mistake and should be reversed.
“It will cost us money, not save us money,” said Marshall, who served the Robins region in Congress as a Democrat but was known as a centrist. “Trying to solve the budget woes with the Defense Department won’t work. It’s dangerous, and it will cost us money in the long run.” Every four years the Department of Defense is required to submit a report to Congress outlining its long-term plans, priorities and assessment of risks. The National Defense Board on which Marshall served is appointed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and the Department of Defense also appointed members. The board is tasked with giving an independent assessment of the defense review.
Marshall said the board’s conclusion is that the review needs to be redone.
“We basically say we think the Congress and the president should ask the Department of Defense to rethink the QDR,” he said. “We think they need to redo it because the process they went through was too budget-constrained.”
The board recommends that the Department of Defense return to spending levels proposed in the 2012 budget, which Marshall said was the last budget that was largely based on strategic need rather than spending cuts.
One audience member asked Marshall why the U.S. can’t save money by cutting more overseas bases. Marshall that’s a question he gets a lot, but that kind of cut would be a bad idea.
Other nations should contribute more to their own defense, but if the U.S. pulls back, Marshall said, he does not expect many would be ready or willing to spend the money it would take to fend for themselves without the U.S. taking the lead.
“If America retrenches militarily, it’s almost guaranteed that you are going to have instability globally rising ... lots of horsing around by little tin-pot dictator types, and the effect of that will be to diminish the world economy, which diminishes our economy, which cuts tax collections even more than what we are saving with these budget cuts to the military,” he said.
Marshall’s talk was organized by the 21st Century Partnership, which advocates for Robins Air Force Base. Retired Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, the partnership’s new leader, said afterward that he liked what Marshall had to say.
“He had a very inspirational perspective on how we should go about ensuring the common defense of this nation,” Stenner said. “He took it right back to the Constitution, and his comments were right on the money.”
Marshall said he and other members of the National Defense Panel will be going on talk shows and making other appearances in the coming months to discuss their concerns about the military.
“We are hoping that the defense panel’s work will add to the debate and push it in a good direction,” he said.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.