We can’t afford to wait years to decide whether the dire predictions associated with the latest round of defense cuts are more than political hyperbole. If those predictions prove true then the money we save by cutting national security in order to service the debt will pale in comparison to the high future costs to repair the damage. That is why we must use this time as an opportunity to reshape our armed forces to address future threats.

For more than a year some administration, congressional and uniformed leaders expressed dire warnings about the consequences of significant additional defense cuts associated with sequestration – the automatic spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 – that take effect January 2, 2013. Those dire predictions indicate the deep defense cuts will “destroy the military,”[i] “It invites aggression,”[ii] may force the reintroduction of the draft,[iii] and be “very high risk” for our national security.[iv]

Those are sobering warnings coming from our elected officials and senior generals who caution that the new cuts alone are not the whole problem. The new reductions follow President Barack Obama’s other annual defense cuts and his revised defense strategy that assumes major new risks.