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    letters | OUR DEFENSE BUDGET

    Don’t drop shield vs. threat of Iran

    GIVEN THE recent UN report on Iran’s race to a nuclear weapon and the recent explosion that suggests that the country is close to building a long-range ballistic missile, it would seem foolish for Congress to approve unprecedented cuts to the defense budget that could slash funding for, among many other things, the only shield we have against nuclear ballistic missiles - our missile defense systems.

    Your Jan. 2 editorial “Pentagon should do more cutting, less complaining about budget’’ neglected to mention that $600 billion of the $1 trillion in defense cuts proposed by the debt-ceiling deal would slice every defense line item equally, from office supplies to body armor. In addition to reducing our military significantly, these cuts would slow development of our missile defenses, which need updates to effectively defend against the weapons Iran is developing.

    Congress wouldn’t intentionally vote to slash our missile defenses. Leaders on both sides of the aisle, from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, to Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, support the systems, pointing to years of testing that prove that they are our only effective defense against long-range ballistic missiles. Congress shouldn’t let automatic budget cuts slash essential defenses against a nuclear Iran.


    James J. Carey

    Retired rear admiral, US Navy

    Alexandria, Va.

    The writer is national chairman of the Flag and General Officers Network.

    Slash nuclear line item

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    YOUR JAN. 2 editorial “Pentagon should do more cutting, less complaining about budget’’ mentioned several places where the military budget should be cut, but left out one important one: nuclear weapons. The Defense Department is on track to spend almost $300 billion on these weapons in the next decade. Not only are they expensive, but they are no use in the wars we fight. We have the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, but that didn’t help us accomplish our goals in Iraq or Afghanistan. The nuclear weapons budget could be enormously reduced without any cost to national security.

    Ken Olum