U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said he saw firsthand on a trip to Afghanistan why the U.S. Department of Defense budget should not be reduced.
Barber, D-Tucson, went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Kabul, Afghanistan to see military equipment and personnel, and said the trip will inform his vote on the department's budget later this year.
“The trip was for me an opportunity to see firsthand what our effort in Afghanistan is producing and how our soldiers are doing and to be able to use that information to guide me as we go through the reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is coming up in two months,” he said.
Proposed cuts to the defense budget include reducing the number of soldiers and eliminating the A-10 Air Force airplane, which is housed at Tucson’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
Barber said he saw "in this particular theater how these proposed budget cuts could harm our efforts there and all that we’ve put into it."
"The budget’s unacceptable, in the extreme,” he said.
It is important to have a military ready to fight because there are a number of unstable regions in which the U.S. may have to defend allies, Barber said.
“I’ve been concerned about the proposed budget coming from the Department of Defense because I believe the request that they have made of us will put America in a very vulnerable place going forward should we have to fight another war or support our allies where we’ve made treaties” he said, citing Israel and South Korea.
“The other factor that puts us in transition is the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, which needs to be signed between the Karzai government or the Afghan government and the allied forces," he said. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai helped craft the agreement, which explains how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after the majority are removed later this year, he added.