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Memorial Day Is a Reminder To Get Our Military Priorities Right

This Memorial Day weekend, we will rightly celebrate and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who fought and died to keep America safe and free. It is a reminder to us all that the price of our freedom has been paid for by the sacrifices of so many who came before us: brave warriors who traveled far from home to give battle to America’s enemies.

Unfortunately, the capacity of our soldiers to do this is in peril.

I recently wrote here that the infusion of a deeply flawed perspective, known as wokeness, into our nation’s armed services has served to deprioritize the fielding of new weapons urgently needed by our armed forces.  This phenomenon has coupled with a bloated, incompetent Pentagon bureaucracy and has reduced America’s combat strength.  This is unacceptable.

The Biden Administration’s defense budget will hollow out America’s forces through the adoption of a “divest-to-invest” policy.  What at first appears to be a small increase in military spending is actually a sizable reduction in expenditures when the effects of President Biden’s inflationary spiral are considered.

As the war in Ukraine proves, our military must possess persistent capabilities that are not cut to permit the temporary funding of future weapons systems.  This essential logic seems lost within the corridors of the White House and the E-Ring of the Pentagon, which houses the senior leadership of the Department of Defense.

In fairness, throughout multiple administrations, the Pentagon’s record in fielding new weapons is lacking and requires a total revision in how we develop and acquire systems.  All branches of our military have been plagued by procurement disasters, often wrought by political forces that care little for actually building and deploying decisive weapons.

Repeatedly, weapons development is taken out of the hands of those who will actually use the weapons: our soldiers. This is a crucial error in our development of war-winning weapons – by the process centers in the swollen Pentagon bureaucracy, not our armed services.  The only comprehensive answer is to work with Congress to remove entire levels of bureaucracy that disjoin weapons development, testing, and procurement decisions from our nation’s warfighters.

The calamitous results of not doing so are evident.  In the past, my service (the Army in which I served) bowed to pressures and canceled its new howitzer, the Crusader, before production began.  It was replaced by the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, which was part of the Army’s Future Combat Systems; it, too, was canceled without any units fielded.  The total development cost for the unrealized Future Combat Systems was at least $18 billion, though some estimates place this number much higher.

The Navy was to build 32 Zumwalt-class destroyers.  It built three.  The price for these few vessels approaches a great percentage of what was to be the procurement cost for all 32 ships.

Worse, the Zumwalt class was to fulfill the role of shore bombardment, a capability the Navy desperately needs.  The Advanced Gun System, however, is being ripped out of the Zumwalt class without ever being used.  Why?  Its shells approach $1 million each.  A full, one-time, loadout for three ships would cost $4.5 billion.  The mind reels at how the Navy could have deployed a shipborne artillery system without creating a back-up, low-cost round.  This is not management; it is the abdication of leadership and foresight.

The littoral combat ship, which comprises two types, is likewise a fiasco ─ with vessels retired after just a few years of service.  Indeed, the entire fleet of ten Freedom-class vessels will be decommissioned.  Unbelievably, we are mothballing Freedom-class ships commissioned in 2019 or in 2020.  Two ships of the Independence-class are also to be removed from our fleet.  To salvage this program demands that we consider transferring these littoral combat ships to Taiwan, which is in desperate need of new vessels and may make them battleworthy.

America must dominate the seas, not bow to a hegemonic communist state; but our woke Navy is set to lose more ships than America has lost in many of our wars.  This is unacceptable in a period in which the People’s Republic of China will have half again as many ships as our Navy, though China has never been a naval power.

The Air Force, in the Biden Administration’s new budget, is set to retire 33 advanced F-22 fighters.  At the same time, the service is buying F-15EXs, based on a plane that first flew 50 years ago.  The F-22 was, in fact, designed to replace the F-15, but logic and the prudent utilization of existing resources are now in short supply within President Biden’s Pentagon.

The Marines are being gutted due to misguided objectives that have deprioritized the maintenance of prodigious lethality and proven force components.  The service has lost all its tanks.  Crucial programs have been canceled, including the amphibious Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, developed at a cost of over $3 billion, but terminated by the Obama-Biden Administration before production began.

A truly adequate replacement has yet to be deployed; but on Earth Day, President Biden declared his commitment to spend billions to make “every vehicle” in our military “climate-friendly.”  Perhaps the President is unaware that war is not friendly to the environment or to anything else.

As a nation, we must charge our military to fight and win wars in order to preserve peace.  Anything less squanders American lives – something we should be painfully aware of this Memorial Day weekend.  Congress must stand against President Biden’s caustic priorities.

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