Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, worries that the Bush administration defense budget cuts may weaken national defense.
"The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in the hearing that from a military standpoint, he would not recommend that budget because it could weaken us. That worries me, and I agree with him. I hate to see us weakened because of budget concerns," Hansen said.But given pressures to cut the defense budget and reduce the national deficit, Hansen said the administration has "done a fairly good job. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 7."
Hansen's main sticking points with the budget, he said, are plans to develop both a rail-based MX missile system and a truck-based Midgetman missile system.
"They talk about the need for mobility in missile systems. Most of our missile systems are mobile, whether on submarines or in airplanes. I don't quite see the need for both new systems and the expense," he said.
Also he questioned the wisdom of canceling plans for the Marine's Osprey airplane/helicopter. Its tilted wings and engine would allow it to land like a helicopter but fly with the speed of an airplane. The Bush administration said it is too expensive for a limited mission of landing marines in combat. But Hansen said older helicopters now used are aging and need to be replaced.