It's understandable that after years of military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are against having our troops sent into foreign conflicts.
The world is currently facing global threats and challenges on many fronts. We're seeing Chinese intimidation, Russian aggression in the Ukraine, nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran, an Islamist insurgency in Iraq, a civil war in Syria, and fighting between Jews and Palestinians in Gaza which is part of an overall deterioration of conditions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
According to a new bipartisan report by a congressionally backed National Defense Panel of defense experts, U.S. military superiority in the world is "not a given" and maintaining an operational and technological edge will require "sustained and targeted investment." It determined that our military faces a "high risk" in the world unless changes, requiring more funding, are made.
Under this administration, military spending was first cut by $487 billion over 10 years. That was followed by automatic spending cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act that included another $37 billion cut and additional cuts of $75 billion for 2014 and 2015.
On Capitol Hill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon said the bipartisan panel's warning that our military is underfunded not only puts our troops at risk but it also undermines global peace and stability.
The report states the administration's plan to cut Army forces to the lowest levels in more than half a century "goes too far." It also urged the building up of both the Navy and Air Force, suggesting an increase in the number of warships from 260 to between 323 and 346 ships and submarines.
The panel also recommended that the Air Force, which currently has the smallest and oldest combat force in its history, increase both surveillance and strike forces "to rapidly deploy to theaters of operation to deter, defeat, or punish multiple aggressors simultaneously."
Regarding our aging nuclear forces, the panel said it is concerned about our strategic nuclear weapons that are becoming obsolete and called for a review of strategic nuclear deterrence.
"We conclude that American military forces will be at high risk to accomplish the nation's defense strategy in the near future unless recommendations of the kind we make in this report are speedily adopted," the panel said, warning that conflicts are likely to unfold more rapidly and battlefields will be more lethal.
It's obvious from the polls which show that Americans do not want to put more boots on the ground to deal with the global trouble. To regain U.S. prestige on the world stage, however, we must project a firm resolve through strong leadership, strategy and military might that allows us to lead from a position of strength.
By Jim Zbick