Slashing defense spending alone is not the answer to addressing the nation's burgeoning budget deficit, but would only weaken America's defenses when the Soviet Union is finally at the arms bargaining table, says Air Force Maj. Gen. James W. Hopp.
Speaking at the Utah State Air Force Association Community Partner Night, the commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center said the only way to trim the deficit is to reduce all areas of federal spending, not just defense.Nonetheless, Hopp said "more than its share" has been taken from the Pentagon, noting that only 27 percent of the national budget was spent on defense this year - 6 percent of the total gross national product.
"And yet the opposite is what most people believe," he said.
The average American believes the United States spends twice as much on defense as it actually does, he said.
Hopp said the decrease in defense support has resulted from a public misperception that the defense budget has had a "major impact" on deficit growth.
He said continued defense cutbacks pose a serious threat to combat readiness, warning that the United States cannot afford to become complacent, despite improved relations with the Soviet Union.
He said the USSR has gone to the negotiating table because "they recognize we are strong.
Even so, he warned that the Soviet Union's talk is only rhetoric because even with its military cutbacks, it still has a 2-to-1 advantage over the West in conventional armed forces "regardless of what you've read."