Military Readiness: Pretty much everyone — even ex-state senator Barack Obama — says a president has no greater responsibility than national defense, protecting the homeland, its people and interests abroad. So why isn’t he?
Americans have learned over time and especially since 2009 that what an administration says are its priorities and goals may be mere words.
Remember those millions of new jobs promised for the summer of 2010? Or the $2,500 in health care savings every family would enjoy with ObamaCare that have turned into $3,000 more in expenses?
So, it’s particularly disturbing to read the Heritage Foundation’s latest annual Index of U.S. Military Strength. We’d make some kind of timely Halloween reference here, but the nation’s eroded, corroded military strength and capabilities documented therein are beyond scary. They’re terrifying. A few disheartening examples:
• From 566,000 in 2011, the Army has been cut to 490,000 on the way to 450,000 and possibly 420,000.
• Under severe budget constraints, the Air Force is retiring older planes more expensive to operate. But their replacements are late coming into service. KC-135s comprise 87% of a vital flying tanker fleet, but average 50 years old, way past 100 in human years.
• The Air Force’s tactical aircraft squadrons will soon number 26, down from 133 in the 1990s.
• The Navy stretches deployments to cover gaps. It’s one carrier short into next year. Vice Chief of Operations Michelle Howard says, “Navy readiness is at its lowest point in many years.”
• The Marine Corps, the crisis strike force, has fallen from 292,000 to 184,000. Fewer to come.
It’s one thing to not recruit foot-soldiers. It’s another to forcibly retire (even prosecute) career generals, as Obama’s done. Worse, he’s forced out hundreds of career majors and colonels. That wipes out an entire cohort of experienced officers who would have been our generals of the future.
A variety of domestic fiscal and political forces have combined over time with doubtful assumptions, wishful evaluations and lazy rationalizations to downgrade across the board the military capabilities of the country’s all-volunteer forces in size, equipment and reach.
No wonder the world’s dark sides, including Russia, China, ISIS and North Korea, take advantage of that voluntary vacuum to escalate their own rise. The U.S. can no longer handle a variety of global threats, even if the current president had the will to do so.
Remember Obama’s 2013 National Defense University speech proclaiming victory over declining terrorist forces and the end of continual wars? There’s a problem with such wishful thinking: It takes two to not have a war. It also takes two sides to reach and honor that new agreement on nuclear weapons.
Recall Obama dismissing ISIS as a JV team? That got him through a few months of news cycles. But ISIS didn’t get the memo and spread its tentacles of death far and wide before he reluctantly faced its reality. Even then, his “strategy” was a half-hearted, ineffective bombing campaign that’s produced only stalemates. And even Canada has quit that effort as useless.
The good news is Obama’s reign of error has just 446 days left; the bad news is 446 long days and nights left.
We echo the haunting words of former Vice President Cheney, who last April observed:
“If you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world and reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama’s doing.”
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