National Security

Top General: We Should Never ‘Send Americans Into A Fair Fight’

The highest ranking officer in the U.S. military believes it is crucial that U.S. military personnel not only be prepared for a multitude of conflicts, but have a significant advantage over any adversary.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Wednesday in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Carter and Dunford both emphasized the U.S. military’s current posture and readiness, and outlined the several threats posed to the U.S. by a variety of actors.

“I don’t believe we should ever send Americans into a fair fight,” said Dunford in his opening statement. He believes it is crucial that the U.S. not only maintain force capacity, but also have a qualitative advantage in their technology and equipment.

Concerns over force readiness were shared between not only Dunford and Carter, but also several members of the committee. Dunford noted that given the current status of the Department of Defense, it will be “several years” before the U.S. can replenish readiness in areas like precision munitions.

In his written statement, Carter outlined the various threats faced by the U.S. His first point dealt with the return to “great power competition” due to increased Russian aggression and China’s forays into the South China sea. Second, he noted that persistent threats from North Korea and Iran are a continued problem. Finally, he noted the continued fight against the Islamic State remains a crucial priority.

“Key to our approach is being able to deter the most advanced adversaries while continuing to fight terrorist groups.” said Carter. “This means we must have – and be seen to have – the ability to impose unacceptable costs on an advanced aggressor that will either dissuade them from taking provocative action, or make them deeply regret it if they do.”

Continued investment in technology, space and cyber capabilities will address the various threats, said Carter, in addition to engaging in programs that help retain the military’s best talent.

Carter’s one point of concern addressed the decision by a Congressional committee to divert $18 billion dollars from the Department of Defense’s “overseas war fighting accounts” into “programmatic items we didn’t request.” He referred to this action “gambling with war fighting money at a time of war.”

Carter noted the $18 billion diversion is part of a bigger problem regarding proposed future automatic cuts in defense spending that could be as much as $100 billion. Going forward, his primary budgetary concern will focus on preventing that sequestration.

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