WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke out on the need to modernize our military and voiced his opposition to major cuts to the defense budget. Senator Inhofe attended two Senate committee hearings today, one with recently nominated Department of Defense (DoD) leaders and the other with military and land warfare policy advisors. Senator Inhofe made the case for moving forward with the Future Combat System (FCS), which includes the Non-Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C), as the way to adequately modernize the Army and provide the most advanced and survivable equipment for our military at war.
“As Congress begins consideration of President Obama’s budget, my priority is to ensure our nation stays committed to providing the necessary funds to our men and women in the Armed Services,” Senator Inhofe said. “While it may seem outrageous to my constituents in Oklahoma, many here Washington seem to think now is the time to make drastic cuts to the defense budget. In fact, all indications are that the only budgetary cuts on the table are cuts within the DoD and at the expense of our national security.
“The greatest trust placed upon Congress by the American people is to provide for their security by maintaining a strong national defense. Today, our military is fighting with equipment that is decades old and a force structure that is 40% less than what it was in the 1980s. The Air Force has 2,500 fewer aircraft, the Navy cut its fleet size in half, and the Army reduced its force to half the number of divisions it had during the first Gulf War. For the past 17 years, our military has been asked to do more with much less and much older equipment. So far, the only area in the President’s budget that is considering being cut is defense. We have a responsibility to our troops and the American people to adequately field and fund a military equal to that which we are asking them to do.
“Of particular interest to me is fighting for the Future Combat System, which is front and center in Washington. The Future Combat System is Army modernization and without it, our servicemen continue to cross the battlefield with the same combat vehicles their fathers did. FCS-manned vehicles will be an average of 12% more survivable than the current combat vehicle systems based on manufacturer tests of armor. Our Soldiers, and frankly the next generation of Soldiers, deserve better than 50 year-old combat vehicles with seven layers of new paint. FCS will only help enable our Soldiers to fight and win combat operations ranging from counter-insurgencies through conventional conflicts, but it will bring our sons and daughters home safely.
“Training and equipment required to execute the wide range of missions we ask our of Soldiers does not happen overnight. The U.S. Army is the pre-eminent global power in conventional warfare, but this status did not come without the significant investment we made in our equipment during the late 1970s and the 1980s. We have not adequately invested in modernizing our military since the 1980s. We took an acquisition holiday in the 1990s and it appears we are about to do it again. The ‘Peace Dividend’ of the 1990s never materialized; meanwhile, we gutted our military to the point where some suggested that there wouldn’t be a need for a large ground force in the U.S. military.
“The Army’s premier infantry fighting vehicle, the Bradley, is on its third iteration based on 1960s/1970s technology and continues to be updated and modified to meet the developing threat. Our M1 Abrams tank, developed and produced in the 1970s and 1980s, during the Cold War, to fight a conventional war on the plains of Europe, is now on its third update. Right now, our premier artillery howitzer is the M109A6 “Paladin”, with the “A6” indicating the 6th update on the same chassis developed in the 1950s. With the addition of the Army’s Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program, the Paladin will receive its 7th update.”