The Obama years have had quite the negative impact on our military’s readiness, according to a new report stating that more than half of the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, including almost two-thirds of the strike fighter jets, largely due to lack of military funding to fix them.
But, wait. There’s more:
Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.
Leaders claim that if more money doesn’t become available, five more submarines will be in the same state by the end of this year.
This news would seem bleak enough during normal times, but with China performing maneuvers near islands we’ve sworn to protect, as well as the ongoing fight with IS, this is a particularly bad time to get such news.
In response to this needless state of affairs, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has advanced an emergency supplementary funding bill of $26 billion to address the repair and readiness of the fleet.
“Trying to cut our defense spending to get a peace dividend as we did in the 1990s or to pay off domestic constituencies as Obama did is a self-defeating effort,” Cotton said during a panel at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
“Your enemies get wind of what’s going on, their aggression becomes vulgar, and you have to pay more to rebuild the capabilities and capacity that you lost just to get back to where you were,” he continued.
Cotton said Congress needs to increase the defense budget by at least 15 percent in fiscal year 2018 to recoup the military’s losses.
“To put it briefly, we need more ships, more soldiers, more Marines, and more aircraft of virtually every kind,” Cotton said. “More broadly, we need to invest in the men and women of our armed forces. We need to give them the training and equipment they need to do their jobs and we need to do this urgently.”
Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has also taken up the issue. On January 31, he laid out a three phase plan which included a Pentagon submission for a 2017 budget amendment request.
Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees are holding hearings this week addressing military readiness levels in preparation for negotiations next month for the National Defense Authorization Act.
If our Commander-in-Chief is so keen on provoking foreign powers on and off of Twitter, Republicans had better make sure the military is able to cash any checks Trump writes in their name.