U.S. faces ‘last, best chance to fix’ global defense strategy

A Wisconsin Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk medevac helicopter hovers in flight during a March 2013 training exercise in Oconomowoc, Wis. Approximately 35 Soldiers from West Bend, Wis.-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation will deploy to Afghanistan this winter. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

America’s wide gap in military capabilities compared to peer competitors is fast eroding, and worse, the opportunity to reverse the trend is fading quickly in today’s domestic and geopolitical environments, a group of experts told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“We have a problem and this is the last, best chance to fix it,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “There is a disconnect between reality as it is in the world and what those forces are being told what they should be doing on paper.”

Eaglen added that the U.S. is suffering a “crisis in confidence” in U.S. defense-making strategy.

Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Spoehr, who is director of the Center for National Defense at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, added: “There are no shortcuts to rebuilding the military. It took years to get into this position and it will take years to get out of it.”

The chairman of the committee agreed.

“Our military advantage is eroding,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. “[The Defense Department] will have a tough road to reverse current trend lines. Restoring readiness, modernizing the force and reforming acquisition will all be necessary to renew American power. But ultimately, all of these efforts will be in vain without clear strategic direction.” [source]

Meanwhile, in the House, President Donald Trump’s efforts to rebuild the military have hit another wall:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s push for a major military buildup suffered a setback on Thursday when the House of Representatives put plans on hold to fully fund the federal government through next Sept. 30 and instead resorted to temporary measures freezing spending at current levels. …

While the moves, if successful, would keep the Pentagon running at last year’s levels, they are far from Republican hopes of handing Trump about $634 billion in fiscal 2018 funding for the military’s regular operations, $85 billion above last year. [source]

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