By and large, today's defense debate misses the key point: whether we are getting the best defense for our money.
As a nine-year member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe we can spend less than the president proposes spending for defense. Several weeks ago, I put forward a 47-page military reform budget which would, over the next five years, spend $100 billion less than the president has proposed.
This budget would:
* Put an emphasis on the kinds of weapons that work in combat, rather than those with the greatest technological complexity. I propose cutting such major weapons systems as the Nimitz-class carriers, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the AH64 helicopter and the F18, and substituting, in many cases, less expensive, more effective alternatives.
* Change the kind of Navy we are building. A 600-ship Navy doesn't buy us what we need if it is made up of the wrong kinds of ships. We should build more submarines than we're building now, and we should build smaller carriers in greater numbers.
* Eliminate the B1 bomber, and proceed with the Stealth bomber only if it proves to be technologically effective.
* Eliminate the MX missile and--in the absence of an arms control agreement--replace it with a smaller missile with no more than three warheads and proceed with the Trident II program.
Non-budgetary reforms--such as developing a coherent security strategy and updating our basic combat doctrine and officer education system--are also essential to making our military more effective.
Finally, arms control must be a central feature of our national security policy. We should seek to ban outright the use of weapons in space rather than emphasize space-based defenses, ratify SALT II and pursue comprehensive negotiations toward further reductions.