We Must Invest in our Military
I’m optimistic that President Trump has announced that he will seek to add $54 billion to the Department of Defense in 2018 and in doing so, will finally end Sequestration, which Army Vice-Chief of Staff General Daniel Allyn called “the most important action (we) can take.” While this is a much needed announcement for our military and for our national security, it will still take many years, and much more money to undo the damage of the previous administration. That’s time we don’t have and I’m working to ensure the Army gets help now.
Our forces are outgunned, outranged, outdated and undermanned. Less than half of Navy aircraft can fly; it is the smallest and least ready Navy in her history. The Air Force is the smallest it has ever been, and the average age of Air Force planes is 27 years old, shrinking any advantages we have over global adversaries.
However, no service has been hit as hard as your United States Army.
The Army’s current fleet of ground combat vehicles was conceived in the 1970s and built in the 80s. While multiple upgrades to these vehicles have occurred, they were not designed for the requirements of today’s—and tomorrow’s—wars. We must have an Army equipped to dominate 21st century combat.
During fifteen years of engagement in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army has rightly modernized its fleet of ground vehicles specific to these fights in the form of the multiple variants of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and up-armored Humvees. While these vehicles have helped save the lives of thousands of soldiers, they are wholly inadequate for the types of threats the US Army is currently facing.
Today, revisionist powers are annexing territory, challenging and probing the post-WWII political world order and using Anti-Access/Area Denial technologies to thwart our ability to project power. These nations have also modernized their ground forces, and the tactical overmatch that the US has enjoyed for decades is now gone. As US Army Vice-Chief of Staff General Allyn recently stated, we are “Outranged, outgunned and outdated.” On our present course, the US Army will not be modern enough to deter and defeat potential enemies.
In eight years, the Army will make a decision whether or not to keep the current thirty-five year old Bradley Fighting Vehicle for the next 50-70 years. The scheduled upgrades for the Abrams tank will take twenty-six years to completely outfit the entire Army, while still failing to solve many of the problems of being outgunned. Additionally, for many reasons, such as having to fund current readiness requirements at higher-than-expected levels, the Army has no program in place to procure next generation ground combat vehicles.
The risk an overmatched Army presents to the Joint force fight is untenable. As a representative of Fort Hood and Co-Chair of the Congressional Army Caucus, I will not sit idly by and not give our Soldiers the capabilities they need to dominate future wars.
For these reasons and many more, in the coming weeks I will introduce a resolution to support the US Army, encouraging them to expedite their efforts to procure and field next generation ground combat vehicles. The longer we wait to modernize, the longer our soldiers cannot provide adequate deterrence, and, if deterrence fails, the more difficult it will be to ensure we win without high costs in blood and treasure. It is imperative that our Army make advancements in modernization – our soldiers deserve, and our national defense requires, no less.