Supporting America’s armed forces in times of war and peace is a fundamental obligation of government as part of its responsibility to provide for the common defense and protect the nation. A decade of combat operations and two decades of underinvestment have left the U.S. military too small and inadequately equipped to meet all of the growing demands placed upon men and women in uniform.
Last summer, a bipartisan commission warned of a coming “train wreck” if Congress does not act quickly to rebuild and modernize the U.S. military. To meet tomorrow’s needs, the tools of national security must be strengthened quickly for the U.S. to help to stabilize the international environment and keep U.S. citizens safe and free while ensuring that America’s economy can prosper and grow.
There is no quick or easy fix. The military’s equipment is old and therefore unreliable, increasingly out of date technologically, and insufficient in number. Meeting the military’s full modernization requirements will “require a substantial and immediate additional investment that is sustained through the long term.” However, the price of U.S. weakness will be greater in the long run.
A modest increase in defense spending above the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2012 would help revitalize the urgent need to modernize the equipment inventory of all the services.
Supporting freedom and defending the nation requires public spending on the nation’s defenses at all times. As President George Washington asserted in his First Annual Message, delivered in 1790, the “most effectual means of preserving peace” is “to be prepared for war.”
Mackenzie Eaglen, as The Heritage Foundation’s Research Fellow for National Security Studies, specializes in subjects such as defense strategy, military readiness and transformation efforts. A policy expert within Heritage’s Davis Institute for International Studies, Eaglen also focuses on the defense industrial base and the size and structure of the nation’s armed forces.
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