The vice Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that the nation’s increasingly poor military readiness is jeopardizing national security, while testifying before the House Committee on Armed Services Monday.
Army Gen. Daniel Allyn, Navy Adm. William Moran, Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters and Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson all appeared before the committee to voice their concerns about the growing threat posed by a lack of proper defense funding allocation. Each vice chief stated clearly that their respective service branch was in some way hampered by budget cuts from sequestration.
“The vice chiefs are becoming more bold in their statements,” John Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. By his assessment, the state of military readiness is below what was seen during the Carter administration.
While top ranking military officers tend to be more reserved in their public comments, the vice chiefs are becoming more vocal for good reason, because, as Venable put it, the U.S. military is in a “horrible state of readiness.”
The reason for the lack of funding is clear: former President Barack Obama’s Budget Control Act of 2011, the overarching law which placed spending caps on the military.
Gen. Allyn thanked Congress for its work to stem reductions in manpower in the Army, but noted, “the most important actions you can take — steps that will have both positive and lasting impact — will be to immediately repeal the 2011 Budget Control Act and ensure sufficient funding to train, man and equip the FY17 NDAA authorized force.”
“Unless this is done, additional top-line and OCO (overseas contingent operations) funding, though nice in the short-term, will prove unsustainable, rendering all your hard work for naught,” added the general.
Adm. Moran shared Allyn’s sentiments, noting that his branch is a “tale of two navies.” Sailors deployed abroad understand their role in U.S. national security strategy and are ready to meet the threat, but their units and installations back home are not as prepared, and that “strain is significant and growing,” the admiral continued.
The admiral explained that shipyards and aviation depots are “struggling” to maintain ships and aircraft, and that this struggle impacts the time sailors have to train before deployment. He added that the Navy is short of critical parts, ordnance and must contend with an aging shore infrastructure.
“It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years,” said Moran.
Gen. Walters told the committee that fiscal instability and “lack of an inter-war period” have left the Marine Corps undermanned, under-trained and poorly equipped. He added that the status quo will impact his branch’s ability to “deter aggression,” as well as “fight and win our nation’s battles.”
The Air Force has also fallen victim to a lack of readiness due to budget caps, and at a time when it is being used heavily in the air campaign against the Islamic State. Gen. Wilson echoed his colleagues, noting that his airmen are meeting the challenges faced by adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea and various extremist organizations. But continuous warfare for more than two decades has taken its toll on the Air Force.
“Sustained global commitments and funding 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,” said Wilson.
President Donald Trump promised to rebuild the nation’s military during his campaign last year. The first step, however, will be dealing with the constricting budget caps put in place by the previous administration’s legislation.
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