Just had a discussion with a friend where I suggested that, given dictatorial powers, I would immediately cut the US military budget in half. The 2013 budget calls for $672.9 billion for the DoD (out of $3.8 *trillion*), so this would cut the military budget to $336.45 billion, with of course a $336.45 billion savings. With such savage and immediate cuts, the military would have to cut back on a lot of stuff. Foreign bases, for instance. The war in Afghanistan would end just as soon as we can load up all our stuff on C-17s and C-5s, and blow up and otherwise demolish the infrastructure we built there.
One might argue that this would leave the US and US interests vulnerable. Well, I have an answer to that.
Of that $336.45 billion saved, I would devote $100 billion per year to the specific goal of building at least two low Earth orbit military bases. Not trivial nonsense like the ISS or Skylab, but Honest To Odin orbiting cities, population at least 5,000 each. Rotation would provide artificial gravity. And not weeny lunar gravity, Mars gravity or even Earth gravity; at the outer rim, at least 1.5 G’s. This would be where IV Marine Expeditionary Force does its training; this would toughen and strengthen them so that at a moments notice they could board dropships and beat the tar out of anyone who has captured or kidnapped American citizens, anywhere in the world. And other sorts of military capability the US needs could be dealt with via B-52s, B-1s, B-2s and Ohio-class Trident missile submarines. If the US Army needed to invade a place, that would occur after it had been bombed to rubble.
Yes, a space base with this sort of capability would be vastly expensive (thus the $100B/year budget). But unlike an Army base in South Korea or a Navy base in Scotland, a space base for the US Military would aid the *US* economy. Just as the US expanded across North America a century and a half ago with US Army forts on the frontier, US military “space forts” would serve as the precursors to further expansion. And these military installations would need to be serviced by commercial interests; companies would compete not only to build them, but to supply them. And as with every military base ever, civilians would surround the base. Not only family members, but the people who maintain the base, provide entertainment and other services, and so on. We don’t get that from, say, bases in Afghanistan or Somalia.
PS: The 2013 budget has $940.9 billion for Health & Human Services + Medicare + Medicaid, and $882.7 Billion for Social Security. In the interests of not being controversial, I would not cut those budgets. What I would do is make sure all the checks are made out at the First Federal Bank of Low Earth Orbit, and can be cashed only there. This would seem to satisfy everyone, don’t you agree? You want welfare… go get it. Once Clavius Base is up and running, the welfare functions would be transferred *there.* And then on to Olympus Mons…