Jan 30, 2018
Defense Drumbeat

Washington Examiner
by Travis J. Tritten | Jan 30, 2018
Rep. Vicky Hartzler is among the rising defense hawk voices in the House who have been repeating a dire warning: The U.S. military is stretched dangerously thin.

The message from Hartzler, a House Armed Services subcommittee chairwoman, and other members of the panel was elevated this month by Speaker Paul Ryan, who said the U.S. has “pushed our military past the breaking point.”

With the backing of leadership, Hartzler and Armed Services now have the task of shepherding the billions of dollars in new defense spending needed for troops and hardware through a divided and gridlocked Congress...

She sat down with the Washington Examiner this month to talk about the military, defense funding, international threats...

Washington Examiner: Speaker Ryan said recently our military is breaking. When you look out at the military, what do you see?

Hartzler: I see a military that is very stressed and whose readiness has been degraded such that it is costing lives. We’ve got to fix it. There are more threats facing us now as a nation than any time since World War II, and yet, we have cut the military budget significantly under the past administration. This has to be reversed. Some of the stats that concern me, and [ryan] may have cited some of the same ones as well: We have the smallest Army since before World War II, we have the smallest Navy, and we have the smallest Air Force. We’ve been cutting our troops by over 120,000 as far as Army active-duty, Reserve and Guard. We have actually less than 50 percent of the Navy aircraft that can fly. It’s closer to around 75 percent of Marine aircraft that can’t. We only have five of 58 [army] brigade combat teams that can fight tonight if called upon.

I had the chance at the end of September to stand in the room where seven sailors perished aboard the USS Fitzgerald as part of a readiness subcommittee trip over to Japan, South Korea, Guam, and Hawaii. That was just heart-wrenching, especially when you found out that that accident was due to training issues and leadership issues. It wasn’t at the hands of a foreign adversary. We owe it to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their parents and their spouses and everyone else to give them the resources they need to fight and win and come back safely...

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115th Congress