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I learned this morning that yesterday a C-2 aircraft off the U.S. Ronald Reagan crashed with 11 service members aboard. Fortunately 8 passengers have been rescued and are safely aboard the carrier. This of course does not decrease our concern for the 3 still missing or their families. Unfortunately this is not the only incident to hit our military this year, things have been especially bad for our Navy, and in the Pacific.
As a nation we ask for more from our military than from any other group. The very least we owe them in return, is to provide them with the resources to do their jobs effectively and safely. This simply is not happening !
The cause of the latest crash is still under investigation, and that investigation needs to be complete and deliberate, not fast. However if you look at such incidents they nearly always come down to two things. Maintenance and Readiness.
Maintenance: One of the biggest challenges here is the ridiculous age of the Navy’s capital ships and planes. Granted the Reagan is a newer carriers. Yet the plane may well not be. Even if both were among the newest we have, they still have to be maintained. Doing so requires both spare parts and trained personnel. Both require money, there is no substitute !
Readiness: For our military to do the job we ask, the way we ask, they must train,train, train. This requires fuel, ammunition and other consumable items in very large quantities. This again requires money.
The counter arguments,
We spend more than other countries already: Partly true and partly not. Yes in dollars and cents we spend way more. However if you look at it from a perspective of how many more people, and how many more places around the world we protect we do not. We spend more, because we are responsible for more.
Why can’t we just cut waste in the existing Defense Budget ? Fair question. In fact the defense budget is too large and too complicated for me to argue that there is not waste there somewhere. Neither can we just reallocate money from elsewhere in the budget, and here’s why. The proposed fiscal 2018 Defense Budget is for a total of about $574 billion. Out of that $223.3 billion goes for Operations and Maintenance. Maintenance is one of the issues we are discussing. Operations includes not only keeping us safe, but fuel, ammunition, etc. required to maintain readiness, our other concern.
Another $141.6 billion goes directly to personnel (both military and civilian.) Many in the 7th Fleet where most of this year’s incidents occurred, do not possess the proper certifications for the jobs they are being asked to do. This alone is unsafe. A large reason this is happening is military personnel have been reduced since sequestration. Watch standers at too many posts are have been working longer than normal shifts. This naturally and predictably leaves less time for the qualification/certification process. Today’s Navy requires a higher degree of skill than ever before. Maintaining ships and aircraft that are serving well beyond their designed lifetime, requires mechanics with the training and experience to keep them serving safely. Spare parts must be quickly available when and where they are needed, or readiness goes down hill. All of which requires many times more money than simply “scrubbing” the current defense budget will provide.
Sequestration is one of the worst things to happen to our military, especially the Navy in our lifetime. We as a nation at war must do better. The safety of those we call on to defend us demands it !
Word has been rampant this week that the Office of Management and Budget is considering massive cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard’s already anemic budget. This is one of the worst ideas any administration from either party has come up with in decades, and there are several reasons why. In fact the idea is so bad, that word barely broke before a group of 23 U.S. Senators ( almost 25%) signed a letter asking that the cuts be reversed. Such a step by so many senators so early in the process is almost unheard of ! In their letter they stated in part,
““We urge you to restore the $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard budget, which we firmly believe would result in catastrophic negative impacts to the Coast Guard and its critical role in protecting our homeland, our economy and our environment,”
Some of the specific reasons this is such a bad idea include,
The Coast Guard is a vital cost effective multi mission agency. The Coast Guard has 11 statutory missions mandated by Congress, This missions span National Defense, Law Enforcement and Homeland Security. The fact is most of the time these missions are conducted by the same people facilities and equipment simultaneously. It is the Coast Guard’s ability to multi-task vital missions which makes it so cost effective. It also helps explain why further cuts would be so disastrous.
The Coast Guard’s capital ships and planes are rusting away. The Coast Guard’s Acquisition Budget alone has already been cut 40% between 2010 and 2015. Much like its much larger cousin the U.S. Navy too many of its ships are already serving past the end of their service life even after maintenance designed to extend their service life. This endangers the life of every Coast guard member that we ask to serve us in these outdated ships and even buildings. In their letter the group of 23 senators even point out that these cuts will likely lead to an expansion of the “ice breaker gap.” In others words there will be an eeven longer period of years where the U.S. will have NO large ice breaking capability. The need for this function is increasing with the reduction in the polar ice cap, not reducing and certainly not going away.
Moves us backward on Immigration Control Our current president campaigned hard on reducing illegal immigration. In fact part of the supposed rational behind these cuts is to finance the wall at the U.S. Mexico border. However these cuts show a severe lack of understanding, or commitment on the issue of immigration. The Coast Guard including the port Security Teams etc. have a leading role in preventing illegal immigration. Hardening the target against illegal immigration by building a wall at the U.S./Mexico border will force those involved to attempt to find another way in. This makes the Coast guard’s contributions in the area of immigration control more vital than ever, not less so. In fact a strong argument can be made that the border wall, and Coast guard anti-immigration efforts are and must be part of the same strategy and must both be funded accordingly.
Puts Drugs on the Streets. The Coast guard is thought of as a sea going service, and for good reason. However there is not a street in America it does not protect. The service’s drug interdiction efforts alone take tons of drugs of American streets every year. Cut the funding and those drugs will go straight back on our streets. The link between the international drug cartels and funding international terrorism also cannot be ignored. By cutting the Coast Guard’s budget not only do we put drugs on our streets, but bring better funding to groups around the world who would bring violence to our door steps !
The Coast Guard is an easy target for budget cuts because most Americans give it little thought. That is partly intentional. The better the Coast Guard performs its 11 statutory missions the less we should have to thing about it. However because of the reasons above an others we need to defend OUR Coast Guard against those who would slash its budget after it has already been slashed so much, so many times.
Robert A. Crutchfield was granted the rank of Admiral, Texas Navy by the Governor of Texas in 1986 at the age of 24. He served as a staff officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary from 1990-1995. He has also served as Chairman of the Republican Party of the Sixth State Senate District of Texas. Later he was a local board member with the U.S. Selective Service System. He also is a Life Member of the Navy League of the United States.
TUCSON – Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally today announced her placement on the House Armed Services Committee, a committee responsible for overseeing U.S. military policy and the Department of Defense. With two major military installations in Southern Arizona and a growing defense industry presence, the Armed Services Committee represents a key assignment for McSally.
“I’m honored to serve on a committee that has such a large impact on our district and country,” said McSally. “The Armed Services Committee plays a key role in ensuring our military is ready and able to defend America, its interests, and its citizens, and with two major military bases in Southern Arizona in Davis-Monthan and Fort Huachuca, you couldn’t ask for a better assignment.”
“We’re looking forward to welcoming Martha to the committee, and we are excited about what she brings to the table,” said Armed Services Chairman-select Mac Thornberry. “With her many years’ experience serving in the military and extensive national security expertise, there’s no doubt Martha will be a strong asset to the committee, a strong leader for our country, and an effective advocate for the people she represents.”
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, McSally will have direct input on legislation affecting U.S. military policy. McSally, who retired from the Air Force as a full Colonel in 2010, served 26 years in uniform and holds two masters degrees-one from Harvard and one from the U.S. Air War College-focused on national security. She also served in two joint assignments and six deployments to the Middle East/Afghanistan for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and led oversight of counter-terrorism missions in Africa.
McSally has declared victory in the race for CD-2 after initial counting of all ballots showed her leading the incumbent by 161 votes. Due to the slim margin of victory, an automatic recount of all ballots has been ordered and is underway.
RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL MARTHA MCSALLY, WHO IS RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IN ARIZONA TODAY ISSUED THE FOLLOW STATEMENT BOUT THE PENTAGON’S PROPOSAL TO MOTHBALL THE A-10. MCSALLY BECAME THE FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO COMMAND A SQUADRON IN COMBAT AT THE HEAD OF A SQUADRON OF A-10s. SHE HAS THEREFORE SUBSTANTIAL FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THE A-10 CAN AND CANNOT DO IN COMBAT.
The loss of the A-10, along with Hagel’s request for another round of base closures in 2017, results in a significant risk to the Tucson community as well. Davis-Monthan’s main mission revolves around the A-10, and the $1.6B economic impact of the base to our community is now also at risk.
We need someone in DC who understands the value of the A-10 and DM and has a track record of fighting and winning, not talking and losing. Having commanded an A-10 squadron in combat, I am running to bring the experience and leadership we need for this significant issue impacting our country and community.