Secretary of Defense James Mattis has news for Congress and for the nation: The military buildup will have to wait until next year.
Mattis delivered that message in a back-to-back series of appearances before Congress, one of them taking place in a rare prime-time hearing on Monday night.
During both testimonies—which were delivered before the House and Senate armed services committees, respectively—Mattis told the Congress that the military buildup promised by President Donald Trump will have to wait until next year. He stressed that while rebuilding the size and capabilities of the military is important, the 2018 defense budget request will focus primarily on addressing near-term readiness problems.
Mattis’ message to both the House and Senate contained two themes: that the 2018 budget is simply intended to fill holes in readiness, and that the promised rebuilding of the military will not take place until 2019.
Responding to multiple questions from lawmakers, Mattis stated that the proposed budget for 2018 will start to “fill the holes and achieve program balance before beginning to significantly grow capacity in future years.”
Testifying alongside Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford explained that there are severe readiness shortfalls in every single branch of the military.
Dunford pointed out, for instance, that the Marine Corps has delayed planned investments in multiple elements, from infrastructure to aircrafts, all to preserve the immediate proficiency of that service’s currently deployed forces.
Mattis pointed out that the readiness crisis is a result of high operational tempo—over 16 years of war—but also of consistent failure by Congress to support the military. That failure is reflected in nine years of continuing resolutions and four years of funding under the budget caps adopted in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
In a dramatic moment in one of the hearings, Mattis stated, “We did not get into this situation in one year, and we won’t get out of it in a year either.”
It will take many years of sustained budgetary growth to rebuild the military—an assessment that is shared by The Heritage Foundation.
Mattis stated multiple times that the next five budgets will have to show considerable increases—he mentioned growth rates of at least 5 percent—in order to rebuild the military to the degree Trump has said is necessary.
Full article: Mattis Is Punting the Military Buildup to 2019 (The Daily Signal)