COLUMN: Equip Our Troops and Rebuild Our Military
From our founding to the present, American history is filled with reminders of the sacrifices of patriots, who took up arms when the call went out to defend their country and the principles that we hold dear. We just observed Memorial Day, when we recognize the high price paid by more than one million men and women in the Armed Forces. This week, we commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy. We are reminded that when the call comes for the common defense, the men and women of our Armed Forces continue to fulfill their duty with bravery. Whether serving in the Middle East or defending our allies around the world, our troops and their families deserve our strong support. Congress has an obligation to do its job to provide for our national security.
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to provide for the common defense, to raise and support armies, and to provide and maintain a navy. Through the annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress authorizes resources for the most important duty of the United States government. Today, our military must be better equipped to respond to threats such global terrorism, as well as to project strength in strategic regions where Iran, Russia and China seek to have more sway – showing that America will defend its national interests and allies abroad.
Under the current Administration, our military has not received the level of support necessary to meet current defense needs. For example, the Marine Corps and the Air Force have resorted to scrounging for equipment and spare parts – including pulling parts from planes displayed in museums – in order to maintain aircraft properly. The size of the U.S. Army is currently on track to fall to the lowest level since 1940. The U.S. Navy has the fewest ships since 1915. Combat readiness has suffered. The President’s proposed defense budget would also for the third year in a row deny service members a pay raise.
This year’s NDAA, which I voted for last month, Congress is taking the steps necessary to fully fund and rebuild our military and provide for our troops. It would stop the hemorrhaging of our troop levels by preserving an Army of 480,000 and adding thousands of Marines and Airman. The NDAA provides service members with a 2.3 percent pay increase as well as boosts funds for much-needed training. We do not take American military strength – or our troops — for granted.
Our troops have proven their mettle time and again. We should not ask them to do more with less. Put simply, this year’s NDAA fulfills Congress constitutional duty to provide for our national defense.