National Defense and Security

After eight years of President Obama’s foreign policy, the world was, in the words of his own Secretary of Defense, “exploding all over.”  America’s retreat from the world stage produced the greatest level of instability in decades.  “To put it mildly, the world is a mess,” is former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s blunt assessment.

Indeed it is.  The list of trouble spots is long and growing:  

  • After years of a failed policy of “strategic patience,” North Korea is now in possession of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of reaching parts of the United States.  The clear goal of dictator Kim Jung Un is developing a nuclear warhead to attach to that ICMB to reach targets inside the continental United States. 
  • In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is now in retreat but at a great cost of blood and treasure.  U.S. air and ground forces have been pressed into action in increasing numbers to ensure that the Iraqi military and anti-ISIS coalition fighters gain and maintain momentum in the battle to deny ISIS a geographic sanctuary.   However, the toll has been great: hundreds of thousands have been killed by ISIS and Syrian President’s Assad’s forces and millions more have been displaced and are now refugees.
  • While ISIS may be losing physical territory, it remains intent on directing and inspiring terror attacks throughout the West.  At the same time, al Qaeda is preparing for a major comeback, Hezbollah is gaining important combat experience in Syria and other Islamic terror groups are being born every day across the globe.
  • There are nearly 10,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the resurgent Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda.
  • Ukraine has already lost the Crimea to Russian-backed “separatists,” and Russia continues to threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as well as the sovereignty of other nations, including the Baltics.
  • Many experts feel that Iran – the world foremost state sponsor of terrorism – is still determined to acquire nuclear weapons and that the Obama’s Administration’s “Iran Nuclear Agreement” merely suspended that effort and did not terminate it.  With its illegal ballistic missile program, financing of terror groups and belligerent behavior, Iran is a major destabilizing force in the Middle East and beyond.
  • The People’s Republic of China, the Pacific’s increasingly emboldened bully, is expanding its sphere of influence by building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea, one of the world’s great commercial seaways.  China is also rapidly expanding its Navy and appears to be attempting to restrict large swaths of airspace. These actions threaten the stability of the entire Asia-Pacific region.
  • Conflict, disease, a lack of water and the threat of famine wrack parts of Africa and Yemen;
  • The threat of cyber-terrorism, cyber-crime and other cyber-related attacks is growing by the day, as is evidenced by recent “ransomware” hacking across the globe. 

In this context, it is important to understand that from 2010 to 2015, total defense spending was cut 22% in constant dollars.  Today, defense spending is 18% lower than it was in 2010, measured in constant dollars.  Of course, 2010 was before Russia invaded Crimea, before China built islands in the South China Sea, before anyone had ever heard of ISIS, and certainly before North Korea embarked on its crash missile program targeting the United States!

As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I am committed to making sure that more resources are provided to fund the Department of Defense and our intelligence agencies. Indeed, we must rebuild our capabilities and restore our readiness. We need planes that fly, and ships that sail, and soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen who are trained for their mission.  We've been taking shortcuts in recent years and that is wrong on every level.

I also support reform of our military acquisition processes. Getting new tools and systems into the hands of our warfighters takes too long and costs too much.

We need to undertake a comprehensive reevaluation of our national security priorities in light of the new irregular challenges and major threats that are proliferating all over the world.   

I have urged the current Administration and my colleagues in Congress to make sure we make more defense investments today to ensure that we will be prepared to defend our interests against ALL threats in the years to come. In addition, we must ensure that that the Department of State is provided with the resources necessary to allow its diplomatic and foreign assistance work to contribute significantly to our national security.

While not serving as the “world’s policeman,” the U.S. military is the modern era’s greatest champion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The cause of peace suffers when the United States retreats from its traditional leadership role.  That is why we need robust funding for the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community and the Department of State!