There is now a joint resolution in the Senate, courtesy of Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), that recommends a minimum defense budget of not less than four percent of the Gross Domestic Product. In a statement, Dole quoted Adm. Mike Mullen, who, since becoming Joint Chiefs Chairman, has been saying four percent “is the floor,” but it may need to go higher. Dole’s resolution, now before the Senate Armed Services Committee, cites the reduction in Air Force fighter wings over the past 16 years, from 37 to 20, and the increasing age of USAF aircraft. It also notes that USAF procurement has been “cut by almost half between FY1985 and FY2006,” while the service’s research and development funding probably will drop by half from 2006 through 2012. (Read “The Feldstein Solution,” one of the many editorials Air Force Magazine Editor in Chief Robert Dudney has written on the four-percent issue.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.