The Pentagon may be confronted by steeper cuts than it’s prepared to make even if the so-called Congressional “super committee” established under the Budget Control Act of 2011 comes up with the minimum $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal spending over the next 10 fiscal years, said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman. Speaking Monday at an event in Washington, D.C., McKeon said “recent statements from the Office of Management and Budget indicate the Administration could be pushing for defense cuts near the size and scope” of the much deeper reductions that would automatically kick in for defense spending under the budget act if the committee does not reach a consensus on where to make cuts. The idea is that Republicans and Democrats would be forced to accept those cuts because the alternative—the automatic cuts—are simply too risky. But McKeon said that kind of political gamesmanship is simply unacceptable. “Those cuts would open the door to aggression, as our ability to respond to an attack would be severely crippled,” he argued, calling such a development a “dangerous regression.” (For more from McKeon’s speech, read Gutting US Military Capability and A Dangerous Combination.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.