(NationalSentinel) On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump promised regularly that he would rebuild and revitalize the U.S. military. Since taking office, he has doubled down on his pledge, suggesting he would support a bigger Army and Navy, as well as new technologies for the Air Force.
In a commentary for The Daily Signal, the senior communications manager for the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, explained why Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress must act to fulfill the president’s campaign pledges: Because overall military readiness is at historic lows.
In testimony before the Senate and House Armed Services committees, the vice chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force articulated pressing concerns about the state of their branchs’ readiness to respond to conflicts overseas or attacks on the homeland.
The hearing highlighted substantial readiness and capacity issues within each of the services:
- Army: Of 58 total brigade combat teams (the Army’s main combat building block), only three are considered ready for combat.
- Navy: The Navy’s fleet is the smallest it has been in nearly 100 years. This makes ship repairs harder to complete, as those vessels are needed on the waterways.
- Marine Corps: Eighty percent of Marine aviation units do not have even the minimum number of aircraft they need for training and basic operations.
- Air Force: The Air Force is the smallest and, in terms of many of its aircraft, oldest it has ever been. The service had 8,600 aircraft in 1991 while today it only has 5,500, and those aircraft are an average of 27 years old. Worse, fewer than half of those aircraft are prepared to take on and defeat our adversaries.
So, what are defense chiefs speaking out now? Where were they some years back when it became evident their branches were suffering mightily in terms of readiness?
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“For eight years under the Obama administration, top defense officials were largely silenced and prevented from articulating their concerns about budget cuts and decreased readiness to policymakers with the ability to reverse undeniable decline,” Cooper wrote.
But there’s obviously a new commander-in-chief now, and defense chiefs believe they can speak out and more frankly about the overall condition of their respective branches.
Most of the damage has been done by so-called “sequestration” – budget-control legislation crafted by Congress and signed by President Obama that were especially hard on the military, while doing little to reform entitlement programs which take up the majority of the budget.
Trump has not backed down from his pledge rebuild a military badly damaged by more than a decade of conflict. Hopefully Congress will listen to the Pentagon chiefs and will give the president the funds to do so.
With threats rising around the world, rebuilding our capabilities can’t wait.