For months now, America’s defense leaders have been asking the nation’s lawmakers to provide consistent and stable funding for the country’s defensive infrastructure. America, which boasts the largest military on the face of the globe and has conducted continuous combat operations in multiple theaters while maintaining a stabilizing presence in nearly every corner of the planet, has faced a number of budgetary limitations in recent years. Sequestration, or spending caps aimed at reigning in the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put into place under the Obama administration, is perhaps the more commonly addressed of those challenges, but the government’s inability to pass consistent budgets have also significantly hampered readiness.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan was the latest of America’s senior military leaders to try to impart this fiscal imperative, this time speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.
I will say, a couple of the Department’s behaviors strike me as abnormal.” Shanahan said, pulling from his thirty years in the private sector to draw comparisons. “First, operating without a budget is not normal. Doing so every year for nine years is really not normal. Next, airplanes are meant to fly. A service with a significant number of its airplanes grounded and awaiting maintenance is not normal.”
“Part of my job as a leader is guarding against the normalization of abnormal behaviors within the Department. A high level of performance is not only expected of our military, it is essential for America’s security, no matter the constraints.”
According to reports from February of this year, a whopping 2/3 of the U.S. Navy’s F/A 18 strike fighters were not operational throughout the past fiscal year due to budgetary constraints preventing them from receiving the necessary repairs and maintenance required to be air worthy. America’s fleet of hornets are not at all abnormal under the current financial restraints, particularly while the Defense Department operates under continuing resolution, as law makers prepare to put yet another defense bill to vote, hopefully later this month.
Shanahan drew parallels between the current budgetary situation and that of the United States leading up to World War II, where politics once again stood in the way of readiness.