The drastic cuts to Maryland's Air National Guard are the tip of the iceberg of canceled national security programs and massive layoffs if Congress fails to stop an additional $600 billion in defense cuts, on top of the cuts by President Barack Obama that Gov.Martin O'Malley says already go far too far ("O'Malley, governors oppose Air National Guard cuts," Feb. 28).

The full impact of a trillion dollars of defense cuts is uncertain, but experts predict:


•Cancellation of all new aircraft programs, including much-needed fighter jets and bombers to replace those worn-out by decades of use;

•Delayed strategic force improvements, while Russia and China modernize theirs;

•Shortage of intelligence drones to keep tabs on international terrorists;

•The lowest level of our ground forces in many decades; and

•As many as 1.5 million lost jobs including more than 37,000 in Maryland — the national unemployment rate could shoot up close to 10 percent again.

Iran is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to threaten us and our overseas troops, friends and allies. China is pouring money into an increasingly powerful military. Now is not the time for devastating defense cuts that won't even make a dent in our deficit.

Henry F. Cooper, Leesburg, Va.

The writer served as in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.