A key factor to the economic success of the United States of America is its ability to maintain and use an effective military force. Russia continues to increase their dominance which is not necessarily in line with American policy, the threat of terrorism is ever present both in the USA and in other parts of the world, and Iran continues to fund terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Under 8 years of leadership with the Obama Administration, North Korea was allowed to continue on with their nuclear program putting the entire world in danger of a nuclear holocaust. China for its part has drastically reorganized their military going so far as to build more naval vessels for their fleet than exist in the entire French Navy.
The Trump Administration can’t operate under the belief that fighting multiple wars on multiple fronts without proper reinforcement and a solid plan for the future is a winning strategy. The United States military is a volunteer force, so the recruitment efforts to keep the ranks full with qualified service members is paramount. Also, the Trump Administration would be wise to focus their efforts on improving the quality of education in public schools and present military service as a viable and worthwhile option. Just as important as keeping the ranks full, the proper funding needs to be in place so our military can have the equipment they need and make the necessary repairs to keep things at a 100% operation level. The USA is the default steward of global peace and democracy for better or worse, and with this responsibility comes the hard truth that with all the current threats facing the world, the U.S. military needs more service members and more equipment to do their job.
In a report recently published by the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think-tank, they outline some key points the Trump Administration and the Pentagon should take under advisement if they intend to effectively fight three conflicts on three different fronts. Specifically, the AEI points out that, “The Pentagon must resolve near-term readiness issues, expand its force structure, and invest in technological breakthroughs to sustain simultaneous operations across three theaters. The Army must be large enough to support stability operations in the Middle East and lethal enough to win decisively in any conventional conflicts in Europe and Asia.” For various reasons, the readiness of the United States military under the Obama Administration suffered. One can argue this situation is due to President Obama’s indifference to the military, budget constraints, or politicians and bureaucrats not understanding the long-term effects of their neglect to maintain a strong military. Whatever the reason, the problems have been identified, and now it is time to fix them.
Even before President Obama came into office, The USA was fighting two wars on two fronts—Afghanistan and Iraq. This resurgence of military conflict came after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and Americans saw first hand that we are fighting a whole new war. Fast forward more than a decade and the USA is still fighting those same two wars but with additional conflicts in the mix, yet the size and budget of our military seem to be inadequate.
In the report that the AEI published, they propose a defense-spending budget of $130 Billion dollars for the fiscal year 2018. This may seem like a large sum, and it is, but when compared to the amount of money needed for things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA Subsidies, the proposed AEI budget accounts for a mere 5%.
The AEI also points out that the Department of Defense for many years has acted in a very reactionary manner rather than a proactive one, and they fail to understand or prepare for the realities beyond immediate battlefield needs.
Further complicating the situation, Democratic and Republican lawmakers constantly get in the way of military preparedness by placing more emphasis on obtaining funds for their pork rather than focus on real threats facing their constituents.
President Trump has not responded to AEI’s findings, but President Trump has stated on numerous occasions that the strength of our military and having support for all our military service members and veterans is very important to him. Hopefully, his words will meet his actions, and President Trump along with Pentagon officials and the folks at the Department of Defense will listen to what AEI has brought to light.