The military has suffered greatly under Obama. Besides the somewhat obvious point that, now, more than ever, our country needs a strong military to defend us; the lack of respect from him angered many.
Except for 1 out of his 8 years, Obama cut military spending; about $106 Billion over 6 years. A Democratic Congress kept pushing his agendas through. Lawmakers as a whole were unable to provide uninterrupted funds to the military.
Despite the fact that demand for services did not decrease, budget cuts continued. Left with few choices, the Navy made decisions to slash maintenance and training budgets rather than eliminate ships. Unfortunately ships can take years to build and aren’t able to be constructed promptly when funding becomes available.
The newest fiscal year began on October 1st and for the ninth straight year, Congress failed to produce a budget on time. They were forced to resort to using continuing resolutions (CR) which keep the money going at prior year levels. The big problem with this is that new projects or plans will not be approved for funding.
There has been almost unanimous agreement that this tactic is not efficient, it often causes the costs of projects to be higher when they have to catch up from lengthy delays. Even though everyone knows there is a problem, nobody seems in a rush to fix it.
The current CR will carry the budget through April 28, becoming the longest temporary measure since fiscal year 1977; although 2011 was only a couple weeks shorter. This year will also be the first time a CR situation has happened during a Presidential transition.
The current overview of the Navy’s fleet is particularly bleak. Reports indicate that nearly two-thirds of the strike fighters, F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, are grounded. They are either undergoing maintenance or waiting for parts, both of which are delayed due to budget cuts.
Navy leaders claim that if more money isn’t found, five more submarines will join the long list of disabled ships by the end of this year.
There is no money for assignment changes either. Service members and their families are not able to be moved. $440 million in salaries have been impacted.
Approximately 15% of shore facilities are considered in failed condition. They sit, awaiting the money
Certainly, with the type of talk candidate Trump was doing, many expected the military to be at the top of his list when he took office. Unfortunately that has not been the case and the budget remains in limbo.
Trump administration often spoke of growing the Navy, increasing the current goal of 308 ships to a high 350. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson’s new Force Structure Assessment aims even higher to a 355 ship fleet. Richardson’s staff has continued to paint a bold picture of growth and a new Republican Congress seems to be actively listening.
Yet, very little has happened, and the problems are getting worse, not better.
Secretary of Defense Mattis issued a memo on January 32 describing a 3 phase plan. This plan indicates that a full 2018 budget would be delivered to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget no later than May 1.
The third phase of Mattis’ plan outlines a new National Defense Strategy and fiscal year 2019-2023 defense program. It would encompass a “new force sizing construct” to “inform our targets for force structure growth.”
The vice chiefs of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps are expected to ask for some money to be given immediately.
“If we get any money at all, the first thing we’re going to do is throw it into the places we can execute it,” a senior Navy source said, “all of those places are in ship maintenance, aviation depot throughput — parts and spares — and permanent changes of station so we can move our families around and fill the holes that are being generated by the lack of PCS money.”
He continued to stress how important that would be to deal with the current problems, “there’s about $6-8 billion of stuff we can execute in April if we got the money. We can put it on contract, we can deliver on it right away.”
The Navy does emphasize that maintenance is their top priority, “Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness — those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready. No new starts.”
The other branches are not in much better shape so all will be waiting eagerly for President Trump’s promises to start taking place.
It is vital that these things happen soon. The current U.S military needs as much strength as the new President. If situations around the world deteriorate, they need to be ready. The current state is depressing but the future of the military holds a lot of promise from President Trump and Secretary Mattis.