A national defense analyst says it's imperative that the United States reverse more than a decade of neglect that has seriously eroded America's military capability. Action on Tuesday by President Trump could be a step in that direction.
The Heritage Foundation recently released its annual Index of Military Strength, which gauges the ability of the U.S. military to perform its missions in today's world. The 2018 index reveals that all of the uniformed services' forces – ground, naval, and air – are suffering the cumulative effects of two decades of deferred modernization, a trillion dollars in budget cuts, and the debilitating effects of years of worldwide conflict.
However, the president today signed the nearly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810), saying it will "accelerate the process of fully restoring America's military might." He had promised during his campaign that he would rebuild the military if elected.
Frank Gaffney runs the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC, and served during the Reagan administration as a deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security. He says it's very important for the American people to understand just how seriously eroded their country's military capability is.
"This has been the bequest of notably the Obama administration but frankly successive presidents of both parties that failed to invest adequately in both the readiness of our forces and in their modernization," he laments.
Gaffney contends the military's current status is particularly daunting in light of China's military build-up simultaneously.
"They have spending double-digits over a decade or more building a fairly formidable military ... on the ground, undersea, and above the seas," he explains. "It's a different kind of China for sure than we faced in the past – and our military is neither as large as it needs to be [nor is it] nearly as prepared to provide the kind of decisive victories that we've come to expect from it."
Gaffney is hopeful that the Trump administration will reverse these trends.
The NDAA signed by the president on Tuesday adds thousands of active-duty personnel, allows a 2.4-percent pay raise for troops, authorizes purchase of additional aircraft and combat ships, and folds in $4 billion more for missile defense. But in signing the bill, Trump said it includes "several provisions that raise constitutional concerns."