As the national debt soars, both liberals and conservatives understand difficult choices about government spending must be made. Among them may be substantial reductions in defense spending.
But if it comes it will occur as a new threat to our security - China - looms.
Earlier this year it was revealed the Chinese navy is building its first aircraft carrier and is planning at least one, possibly two more. And the Pentagon, in its annual report to Congress, warned Beijing is making other improvements in its military capability.
In the air, on the ground and in and under the seas, the Chinese soon will become a regional - perhaps global - military power. In the past, most analysts have agreed Beijing's ability to "project" its armed might was very limited. The massive Chinese army was primarily a defensive threat on the Asian mainland.
But by 2020, the Pentagon predicts, China will be a regional military power. Not long after that its reach will be global. With new ships, state-of-the-art aircraft and missiles and better equipment for ground troops, the Chinese will have substantial offensive capabilities.
Does that mean the United States must enter a new, expensive arms race? Not necessarily.
What it does mean is that Pentagon spending needs to be more intelligent and more focused. It also means military commitments throughout the globe will have to be reconsidered - to ensure real threats are addressed.