The American defense budget is under constant scrutiny, and for good reason. With hundreds of billions of dollars being funneled into our armed forces every year, it goes without saying that there are areas that could use a bit of fat-trimming, but continued combat operations in multiple theaters around the globe have begun to wear on the personnel and equipment that makes America’s military so formidable. It isn’t enough just to have a powerful military; you have to maintain it.

Try to imagine our nation’s armed forces like a pistol. Our nation ventures into some pretty rough neighborhoods, and that pistol serves as our primary line of defense. For years, our trusty pistol has kept our enemies at bay. Now, when we bought the pistol, we knew we’d have to use it, so we got the best pistol we could afford at the time, and it’s proven to be reliable, dependable, and just what we need when our lives are on the line—and they have been repeatedly over the past 15 or so years.

Now imagine if we never cleaned it.

No matter how good that pistol was when we bought it, a decade and a half worth of wear and tear leads to issues. Our military, with the largest defense budget in the world, is better equipped than any military force our planet has ever seen…but what was once a shiny new pistol has become a worn-out old peacekeeper, and although it still fires when we need it to, we know it can’t keep this up without a little TLC.