Mar 21, 2018
Defense Drumbeat

Ahead of Congress's vote on critical funding for our military, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) sat down with Fox News' Jennifer Griffin to discuss how important it is to rebuild and adequately resource our military and readiness crisis we currently find ourselves in today.  Watch the interview here and read some highlights form Fox's coverage below:

Fox News | By Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson

Fixing a "Hollowed out" Military:

With another potential government shutdown looming, the Speaker of the House wants to make sure the U.S. military is not shortchanged after more deadly crashes in the past week killed nine American servicemen, which the Wisconsin Republican blamed on years of budget cuts.

“We lost two F-18 pilots off the coast of Florida. We lost seven of our troops in a helicopter crash in western Iraq,” said Rep. Paul Ryan in an exclusive interview with Fox News in his office on Capitol Hill.

In between the two deadly crashes late last week, a massive Air Force C-5 cargo plane skidded down the runway in Texas after its nose gear failed.  The Air Force grounded its entire fleet of C-5s last summer because of a similar problem.

Ryan says the U.S. military has been “hollowed out” over the past eight years, and the budget agreement currently on the table “fixes that.”

Ryan fears if the $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill doesn’t get passed by Friday and defense spending isn’t increased, the military’s problems only will get worse.

“When I became speaker, I got access to all the classified briefings that a president gets, to see what exactly our military is experiencing,” Ryan said when asked how he became a defense hawk after years of focusing on the nation’s spiraling debt, which currently stands at $21 trillion.

“I have been absolutely convinced that we have been doing a disservice to our men and women in the military with the budgets they’ve been getting,” he added.

Ryan climbed the rungs of power on Capitol Hill by focusing on cutting government spending.  But to fix the military, the top Republican in the House says the additional spending is needed badly.

The Defense Budget is Not the Problem:

“The [defense] budget right now is almost 20 percent lower today for the military than it was when Obama got started,” Ryan said...

In 2010, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen warned the biggest threat to national security was the national debt.

“He’s exactly right,” said Ryan. “But the defense budget is not the problem.  Discretionary spending is not the problem.  It is growing the economy and getting entitlement reform.”

Ryan scoffed at critics who say the Trump administration cannot simultaneously cut taxes and increase defense spending.

“They are wrong,” said Ryan. “We need a tax reform that can keep us growing.”...

Ryan is confident the money will be spent properly.

“That’s what this appropriations bill is all about, making sure that they do use it for readiness, making sure that they do use for training.”

Ryan noted the size of the U.S. military is at historic lows. 

“You think the world is getting safe? No, the world’s getting more dangerous,” he said.

In November, the head of naval aviation said only half the Navy’s 542 F-18 Super Hornet jets can fly right now.

It’s even worse for the Marine Corps where roughly 70 percent of its fleet of older model F-18 Hornets can’t fly, forcing mechanics to strip museum planes for parts.

In the Air Force, only half of the bomber fleet of B-1 and B-2 bombers can fly, forcing airmen to scrounge for spare parts in a remote desert scrapheap known as “The Boneyard.”  The secretary of the Air Force told reporters late last year she was almost 2,000 pilots short, forcing the service to ask retired pilots to come back.

115th Congress