President Obama’s recent threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act unless Republicans agree to lift caps on “non military spending” is Washington’s latest slap in the face to all who are serving and served in uniform, never mind its impact on our national security. Always seen as a weak and geographically dispersed constituency it seems the military and its servicemen and women will once again take a backseat in the fiscal largess of this Administration and its congressional allies.
While the troops digest a 1 percent basic pay raise for the second year as well as cuts in their housing allowances, we witness a 16 percent increase of $49 billion in Medicaid thanks to Obamacare and a 51 percent increase of $30 billion for the Department of Education thanks to defaults on student loans. During the last Democratic primary debate veterans’ issues were discussed in passing only, and not once by the presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. But “free college tuition” and what would sure to be federally subsidized in-state tuition for “undocumented immigrants”? Sure, we can afford that.
Is it any wonder that this Commander-in-Chief’s approval ratings among the military have fallen to a dismal 15 percent? Or that only 12 percent believe that both Republicans and Democrats are truly concerned with their interests?
Ten years ago we were the pride of the nation. Today we’re a fiscal liability whose morale and readiness has been sacrificed upon the altar of political pandering and gamesmanship.
The ineptitude in Washington has already put our national security at great risk. While not front-page news anymore, we still have troops deployed around the world and still “fighting” in Afghanistan and conducting missions in Iraq and Syria. Yet we have systematically reduced our ability to train, equip and deploy. The Army has cut 80,000 soldiers, 13 Brigade Combat Teams, and 3 aviation brigades.
Just recently the outgoing Army Chief of Staff General Odierno stated, “The unrelenting budget impasse has compelled us to degrade readiness to historically low levels … Even today we only have 33 percent of our brigades ready, when our sustained rate should be closer to 70 percent.”
And if sequestration occurs again in 2016 those numbers would only get worse.
The current strategy of peace through hope better work, otherwise we’re in trouble. And yet, we’ve seen this before as a nation. Between every major conflict in our history politicians have made the mistake of confusing public disdain for the cost of war with the necessary ability to wage it effectively. The major difference between the post 9-11 force and that of our previous major wars is that we are an entirely volunteer force. When only .4 percent of the population makes up those volunteers the nation should sit up, pay attention, and demand that Washington ceases it’s intransigence and do the job they were elected to do. Instead we assign Czars, build new agencies, hold summits, all while the very people entrusted to keep us safe fight for primacy over dollars and dominion.
Until Washington chooses action over platitudes, please, stop the bullshit.
Stop giving speeches on Veterans Day celebrating our service when it’s painfully obvious politicians don’t understand the first thing about “serving.” They should stop walking in parades surrounded by the very veterans they’ve failed through the disaster that is the VA. Stop issuing useless press releases on Memorial Day honoring the sacrifices made in past wars as you gut our preparedness for the next one. And stop grandstanding over policy failures that have forced us to watch every street, block and city we bled to secure in Iraq and Afghanistan devolve back into chaos and into the hands of our enemies. Stop pretending that leaving a meager force in Afghanistan is anything other than a political punt to our next election.
If our elected officials really want to honor us, act. Prove to the American people and more importantly the servicemen and women of todays military that you actually have the courage and character as our elected “leaders” to put aside the political machinations for once and do what is necessary and right, political consequences be damned.
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