Failure to Adequately Fund Our Military Puts America at Risk

us military servingArguably the federal government’s first obligation to Americans is to keep us safe from foreign attack and to defend our vital national interests wherever they are threatened.

Alarmingly, our government is on the verge of failing in this core responsibility. Our military is minimally ready, rapidly aging, and has so shrunk in size that even senior military leaders question its ability to adequately meet its national security obligations.

This is a disservice to Americans in general and, most especially, to those who are tasked with carrying out the duty of protecting our nation.

Two weeks ago, voicing his concerns about the military’s condition and the impact that restricted funding is having on America’s security, Secretary of Defense James Mattis was quite blunt:

[N]othing has done more damage to the readiness of our armed forces than the continuing resolutions that stop us from taking initiative, than the lack of budgetary predictability. … I bring this up because if we don’t get budgetary predictability, if we don’t remove the defense caps, then we’re questioning whether or not America has the ability to survive. It’s that simple.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, until recently the vice chief of staff of the Army, has testified that only “one-third of our BCTs [brigade combat teams], one-fourth of our combat aviation brigades, and half of our division headquarters” are considered ready.

Currently, of the Army’s 31 brigade combat teams only three would be available to immediately deploy to a conflict.

The Air Force is 24 percent short of the fighters it needs, and is short 1,000 pilots and over 3,000 maintainers. Only four of its 32 combat-coded squadrons are ready to execute all wartime missions.

Prior to 1991, the Air Force purchased more than 500 aircraft a year to offset platforms aging out of its inventory. Since then, it has averaged fewer than 100 per year.

The Marine Corps “is insufficiently manned, trained, and equipped across the depth of the force to operate in an ever-evolving operational environment,” according to Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. This past December, the Corps reported that less than half of its aviation platforms were considered flyable.

As for our Navy, well, it has two-thirds the ships it did near the end of the Cold War, its battle fleet being the smallest since before World War I. The recent set of ship collisions in the Western Pacific imply severe problems in basic ship-handling skills.

How is it possible that the military that won World War II and successfully kept World War III from happening—achieving peace through strength—has decayed to such a point, even while it has sustained operations for 16 years in distant theaters?

Notably, because our government has failed to recognize the difference between its obligation to “provide for the common defense” and its desire to squander taxpayer dollars on “projects of choice” rather than of necessity or responsibility.

The government has failed, and continues to fail in allocating resources commensurate with America’s security interests.

Through our Index of U.S. Military Strength, The Heritage Foundation has committed to informing our citizenry and government about the status of threats to America and the ability of our military to successfully defend our country when called upon to do so.

Threats are growing at the same time that our military is in decline. Unless this imbalance is corrected, and soon, Mattis’ fear may be realized.

From - The Daily Signal - by Dakota Wood

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4 years ago

The military is one of the few areas of legitimate spending authorized by the enumerated powers of Constitution. So obviously it should be fully funded to meet the legitimate national security needs of the nation. That said, a couple of items need to be stated:

1) Your article points out that not only do we lack the mission-ready equipment (planes, ships, spare parts, etc.) needed to provide for the national defense, but we also are critically short of the manpower necessary to fully man and maintain those systems. Since we are an all volunteer military these days, that is NOT a problem solved simply by increasing military budgets. Especially since a lot of the manpower needed is highly skilled, such as pilots and skilled maintenance personnel. That is the challenging aspect of manning and maintaining the kinds of numbers of planes, ships and motorized vehicles this article states are the goals for each service of the military.

2) The number and types of military equipment is based on our current role as effectively “the free world’s military force”. Today the U.S. military is 70 percent of NATO’s total military strength. We are “the go to” first responders and freqently the only nation capable of fielding a significant military presence to any hot spot in the world within hours or days. NATO has for years, except for five countries out of the total number of members, willfully neglected to fund their obligations or supply their military numbers. That means the U.S. taxpayer has footed the shortfall and the U.S. military has made up the difference in missing force strength from those NATO countries. We should NOT be doing that anymore and Trump has already correctly pointed that out. Of course the left, the media and especially those countries NOT meeting their financial or military force obligations have all howled to high heaven. To that I say too bad. The free ride is over. The United States taxpayer and the U.S. military can no longer underwrite the bad choices of other nations. The same goes for other areas of the world, where the U.S. military essentially functions as the de-facto military for country X or area Y. Mutual defense treaties are somehow viewed as a one way street. Where the U.S. provides all the manpower and equipment and we get nothing in return from those allies, because they have no real military force of their own anymore and they certainly don’t fully compensate us for military personnel and equipment we deploy to keep them safe. We should NOT be footing that bill anymore.

To finalize, I fully support spending whatever it takes to keep the U.S. military up to the task of defending this nations and its citizens. I also fully support meeting our mutual defense treaties as long as each of those other countries also does its part both financially and militarily. If any of them feel that is beneath them or it is not a priority of the social welfare states they have created over the decades while we picked up the slack, then they have two choices: 1) Pay the U.S. Treasury for the full cost of what it takes us to deploy ships, planes and personnel to safeguard their nation at current force strength levels or 2) We will disengage our military forces from that country or area. Those military forces can then be either re-deployed to protecting this nation or one or more of our other other fully compliant allies. The cost savings to the U.S. taxpayer would be in the range of $100 to $200 billion dollars a year, based on last year’s military budget and where our forces were deployed, and the wear and tear on our military personnel and equipment would be atly reduced.

I’m sure AMAC simply wanted a response of “Yes, we should just fund the military whatever it wants right away” and pay no attention as to why our miliarty budget is as high as it is relative to every other first world nation. Sorry. Some of us actually realize that a large part of the reason is that WE, the American people, are actually providing the military to much of the rest of the world, while they sit back and whine about how bad Americans are and how we need to adopt their values.

Have a great weekend everyone.

4 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Good comment. Your right about Amac just wanting a simple yes response. I beginning to see Amac in a different light lately. Maybe I’mjust more aware. I think they try to stir up -hit with us readers. Using headlines to get us all worked up. All I know is what I see. We just spent a few days at the beach, had a great time, eating and bar hopping. On the beach with the general public. I never witnessed the Ugly America that Amac shoves inour face. I noticed it a couple wks ago.
That was a very good comment.

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