Senior defense officials spoke before the House Armed Services Committee this morning, arguing that current levels of funding will not be enough to sustain the armed forces and meet modernization needs.
Army Vice Chief of Staff General Daniel Allyn, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General Glenn Waters, all made the case to the committee that the effects of sequestration, combined with a rapidly changing international security environment and aging military technology, all require immediate attention through larger budgets.
The Department of Defense is seeking an increase of $30 billion to the approved defense budget for Fiscal Year 2017.
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Representative Mac Thornberry sees an opportunity to expand military spending in President Trump’s consistent theme in ‘rebuilding’ the American military.
The primary obstacle so far to an increased DoD budget has been the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. Widely known as sequestration, the $500 billion cut to defense over 10-years was a controversial measure imposed as part of a wider effort to curtail federal spending.
But many critics have argued that the BCA was simply a stop-gap, and only a temporary solution that would not remedy the aging fleet of vehicles, ships, planes, and more critically, training and manning shortfalls.
Every senior defense leader today identified ‘readiness’ as a top concern. In his testimony, General Allyn cited the continuous drain on manpower resulting from the fight against ISIS, shifting force allocations in Europe to counter Russian threats, and the huge contingent of American forces in Korea. These missions, combined with the upkeep costs of existing equipment and vehicles, have caused the Army to ‘selectively modernize’, and as a result the Army is “risking overmatch” against a peer competitor “in every domain”.
According to testimony, the aging fleet of ships and aircraft in the Navy and Air Force run the risk of losing pre-eminence in their associated theaters of combat.
Air Force General Stephen Wilson noted that reductions have “eroded our Air Force to the point where we have become one of the smallest, oldest equipped, and least ready forces across the full-spectrum of operations, in our service history.”
While it is nothing new to have representatives of our military branches spelling doom and gloom before Congress over funding issues, anyone who has served in the past 10 years can attest to the feast and famine nature of military budgets associated with the Global War on Terror.
Combined with back to back deployments to fight a counter-insurgency, the net effect has degraded the institutional knowledge and ability to conduct high-intensity combat akin to what a war with Russia would require.
Image Courtesy of Stars and Stripes