Editorials

Now is not the time to cutback on our military readiness

The world is a very dangerous place and becoming more so with each passing minute. Islamic extremists are popping out of their holes all over the world -- ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah and dozens of others, not to mention al-Qaida. Russia is trying to expand its territory as it flexes its muscle in Ukraine. We are still involved in Afghanistan and the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. It is against this backdrop that in a recent meeting with The Telegraph, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., outlined his opposition to the military’s request for another Base Realignment and Closure commission.

“Sequestration” Bishop said, “is the worst thing that could happen to the country on the defense side and the non-defense side. It has wrought havoc for our government and for our people.” Through sequestration, the military lost about $75 billion and sequestration may still be with us in 2016. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, if that happens “we would be gambling that our military will not be required to respond to multiple major contingencies at the same time.” Looking around the world, there are multiple major contingencies right now.

Hagel has proposed drawing down our troop strength to 440,000 from 520,000; saving $3.5 billion by eliminating the A-10 and dropping Marines troop strength to 182,000, from 190,000. About a dozen Navy ships will be placed on reduced service while being retrofitted.

Bishop said, ”We’re using old weapons systems and old equipment which requires higher maintenance costs.” In no other branch of the service is that more apparent than in the Air Force. The A-10 has been around for four decades. The C-5 was introduced in 1970, and B-52 pilots were not yet born when the Air Force took delivery of its first plane in 1955. The J-Stars plane was introduced 23 years ago, but it’s built on the frame of a Boeing 707 which was introduced into passenger service in 1957.

The question for all Americans is not really a question at all. Can we afford, in this dangerous world, to allow our military assets to atrophy? Can we make our military branches lean, mean, fighting machines by allowing lawmakers to continue sequestration? Can we equip our military services with the best technology and weapons systems with the current budget?

We think not. As Bishop said, “I prefer peace to war but, of course, in order to have peace, you have to be in a position of strength. We can’t disarm ourselves and become impotent in terms of our military strength and hope to have an influence (and) deterring effect on aggression.”

We also have to remember there are people in the world who would destroy us if they could. We must always be secure in the knowledge that they can’t.

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