Recently Representatives Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Sam Johnson (R-TX) were at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to greet troops returning from Iraq.
Later this week House Republicans will release their budget and it is expected to include $16 billion in cuts to defense and other security programs. Defense Secretary Robert Gates previously announced plans to cut the defense budget by $78 billion over five years.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) has pledged to fight any proposed cuts to the defense budget even as fledgling committee members supported by the Tea Party said that the nation’s debts amounted to a national security risk. In response to Gates' proposed cuts Rep. McKeon said, "I cannot say it strongly enough: I will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform."
America’s men and women in uniform must have the advanced equipment and capabilities necessary to defend our nation and our interests around the world. War comes in many varieties, from conventional combat to irregular warfare. In the today’s strategic environment, ambiguity and unpredictability reign. America’s armed forces must be as ready to fight a conventional war as it is ready to fight an irregular one.
If history has shown us anything, it is that the future is always unpredictable and that the basic ingredient of success will continue to be a mind-set that allows the greatest speed and flexibility in adapting to new technologies, missions and constraints. Some of the answers to our future still remain, but the impact of not having funded and balanced capabilities in our military services now hits all of us squarely between the eyes. It is here and now and the issues of cost effectiveness, roles, and missions need to be addressed.
For this reason, Congress should appoint an independent Commission on Roles and Missions; to answer the question how can the country achieve leaner and more cost-effective armed forces and still “… provide for the common defense”? The military services are no strangers to the roles and missions debate; because the services know what the American people expect, they have consistently provided ready, relevant, and capable forces “… to perform such duties as the President may direct.”
In other budget news all 12 spending bills left unfinished by Democrats will go into a single, enormous measure that Republicans promise to bring up the week of February 14. Republicans now running the House are barely touching Congress' own generous budget even as they take a cleaver too many domestic agencies.
Recent increases to the congressional budget engineered by Democrats when they held power in the House from 2007 – 2010 would remain largely in place under a plan announced last week by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY). The plan developed would cut Congress' budget less than any other domestic spending bill, except for the one covering the Department of Homeland Security.
The Republican led House of Representatives have only begun to carry out the important work of getting spending under control, so that the economy can grow, create jobs, and get people back to work.
Please call or write your Representative to provide your thoughts on budget cuts and bringing spending under control.
Mark Olinger is a retired Army colonel who resides in Mount Vernon, Texas. He served in a number of command and staff positions in the United States, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Middle East and Germany.