Letter: The U.S. spends too much on weapons

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Having spent the better part of my career working on defense projects, I found Gregg Aramanda's opinion piece on cuts to the defense budget interesting, but highly flawed ["Cuts will hurt small-business jobs," Opinion, Sept. 25].

He is essentially making the case for the defense budget as a stimulus program. Although Aramanda dutifully repeats all of the dire warnings being raised over cuts to the defense budget, these warnings are at odds with the facts.

At the height of the Cold War, during the Eisenhower administration, the yearly defense budget was $400 billion in 2012 dollars. Today we spend more than $700 billion, but are hard-pressed to identify an industrialized nation that poses a threat to us. China spends about $150 billion a year, and Russia about $250 billion. Hardly serious threats.

Terrorists represent the most significant threat to the United States, and President Barack Obama has demonstrated that we can defeat them with strong on-the-ground and satellite-borne intelligence gathering capabilities, highly trained special forces and effective unmanned drones.

We certainly need high-tech weapons, and we need to be able to project power, but when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta states that modest Department of Defense cuts would result in "unacceptable risk in future combat operations," he loses all credibility with me.

We need to support small business and create jobs, but the crying needs in this country are our decaying infrastructure and education system. We need to stop pouring excessive amounts of our national wealth into the production of unneeded weapons that go first into inventory, next into obsolescence and then into scrap.

Alexander J. Kelly, Smithtown

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