"A Better Way" On National Security
Khizr Khan’s remarks about his son’s service in Iraq at the Democrat National Convention last month have provoked a national conversation about military service, sacrifice, and what it will take to keep America safe in the years ahead.
There is never enough honor we can show to the families of those whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Military service should be above politics. I believe that each of us are called every day to show our deepest respect and gratitude to all of those who protect our freedom, and to their families. There is no more powerful repudiation of ISIS’s evil vision for the world than Muslim Americans, like Army Captain Khan, who put on the uniform in our country’s service.
Yet, beyond the ugly rhetoric of this presidential campaign is another deeply disturbing issue that voters should consider: whether the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform are fully trained and fully supported for the missions they are assigned. Unfortunately, our military is less ready than it should be to address the threats we face; it is too small to adequately meet the demands of a dangerous world; and men and women in uniform are being deployed into harm’s way without all the support they need and deserve.
This state of affairs is the result of political decisions made by both parties in Washington and exacerbates one of the primary legacies the Obama Administration leaves the nation - a more dangerous world.
A third term of Obama policies, coupled with the continued reduction in American military strength, would encourage aggressors around the world, while discouraging those who value peace and freedom. That is no way to honor the sacrifice of Captain Khan, his family, or any of the other brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
House Republicans have offered some real, substantive solutions to these issues. As part of our “A Better Way” project, we have presented dozens of specific proposals with a focus of keeping America strong and engaged. That does not mean that it is up to the United States to rush in and solve every problem in the world. But we have seen clear evidence of the consequences of U.S. weakness with the aggressive behavior of Russia and China, as well as the results of disengagement in Iraq and Syria where the Obama decision to completely withdraw American troops gave rise to a more virulent terrorist threat by ISIS.
“A Better Way” on national security includes proposals on border security and immigration, as well as intelligence and information sharing. But the heart of American national security is the U.S. military, and our plan would focus on the men and women who serve to ensure that whatever mission they are called upon to carry out, they will be fully trained, fully ready, and fully supported.
As is becoming more evident, the combination of budget cuts and continuous deployments have led to a deep readiness hole with too little training, too much old equipment, and too few troops. Digging out of this hole will take time and money, but the threats are not giving us much breathing room.
In addition to restoring the readiness of our troops, it is essential to make reforms in the Pentagon to ensure that taxpayers get more value for their money and that we are prepared for the wide array of threats that today’s world poses. We need to thin down and simplify the bureaucracy to ensure that more resources get where it counts – to those on the front lines. Members of both parties have begun to reform our outdated acquisition system, for example, and making additional improvements are essential to keep pace with evolving threats.
Going forward, we must have a global strategy to defeat terrorist groups, as our “Better Way” proposals call for. The Obama approach has been to do the minimum necessary rather than to win. Meanwhile, the number of terrorists has grown, as has the number of countries which they infect. Part of the global strategy must be an effective communications strategy to include social media.
We also call for a strengthening of our alliances. The U.S. cannot afford to go it alone; we need friends. A central tenet of our approach is to be a better friend to our allies and a more formidable adversary to aggressors. We propose to bolster NATO by pushing all its members to meet their funding responsibilities and also by better preparing to deal with kinds of threats NATO faces today, such as hybrid warfare and terrorism.
We also support reforms in foreign assistance and foreign military sales. Too often the aid we give is not effective and the equipment we make available for purchase comes too late. Frustrated, allied militaries that would like to use U.S. equipment are increasingly looking elsewhere.
From cyber to the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the civilized world faces formidable security challenges. U.S. leadership is required to meet them, and “A Better Way” offers a blueprint that would serve both parties and the nation well to follow. But more fundamentally, each of those serving and their families must know they and their loved ones are honored and supported above and beyond the politics of the moment.