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.
Arguably 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.
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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.
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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.
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