As Ivanka Trump’s fashion line swallowed the midweek news cycle and grabbed White House attention, Americans had little time for alarming revelations regarding our country’s national security.

We are militarily weak, and the world knows it. Experts says we could not hold our own in a major conflict with Russia or China.

“Our long-term readiness continues its insidious decline,” said Adm. William Moran, vice chief of Naval operations, while addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “While we’re still able to put our first team on the field, our bench is largely depleted.”

Don’t think for a moment it is 1980 again, with Reagan taking over command of a neglected post-Vietnam military losing ground to the Soviet Union. This is worse.

This week’s testimony revealed the smallest and least prepared Navy in 99 years.

“It’s a simple matter of supply can’t meet demand,” Moran told the committee.

Some argue the Air Force has even bigger problems. Aircraft numbers have fallen to 5,500, from 8,600 in 1991. Fighter squadrons have decreased in that time from 134 to 55.

Air Force vice Chief Gen. Stephen W. Wilson reported fewer than 50 percent of combat forces are “sufficiently ready for a highly contested fight against peer adversaries,” namely Russia and China.

Other damning evidence includes:

– More than 60 percent of the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet combat jets are out of service.

– More than 74 percent of Marine F-18s are not combat worthy.

– Military inventory of all fighters, bombers, tanks and warships has declined to its lowest level since World War II.

In 1988, after two terms of Reagan, military spending equaled 5.58 percent of the gross domestic product. It was high enough the Soviet Union went broke trying to keep up, and what Reagan called the “evil empire” subsequently dissolved.

Today, military spending is closer to 3 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Russia is slashing welfare spending to fund substantial increases in military spending. China increased military spending by 10 percent in 2015.

In addition to cash flow problems, defense experts report above-average wear and tear on equipment and personnel after 15 years of overseas conflicts in multiple theaters.

“On the one hand, our forces are more ready than ever because they are battle-hardened,” said James Dobbins, former ambassador to the European Union, in an interview with Fox News. “But they’re not ready in the sense that they are not prepared to take on a peer adversary like Russia or China. The pressure and ‘wear and tear’ on the forces have made that all but impossible.”

Congress and President Donald Trump cannot waste time reversing this trend. Substandard equipment undermines efforts of exceptional men and women who devote their lives to keeping us safe. It puts our country in danger, while diminishing our ability to negotiate with other countries in the interest of world prosperity and peace.

Superior military might has always been an essential component America’s standing as a country so enviable people all over the world risk their lives to get here and stay here.

Spend the money to rebuild our military fast, before it is too late. Without the strength to defend our way of life, the rest doesn’t matter.


(c)2017 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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