INHOFE: MILITARY REQUIREMENTS MUST NOT BE SACRIFICED WHILE IMPROVING EFFICIENCY

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today voiced his support for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ overall efficiency initiatives and investment in defense but remains concerned over the continuing defense cuts started in April 2009 when President Obama dealt his first blow to the future readiness of our military and national defense.

“There is a real need for greater efficiency and wise stewardship in the way the Department of Defense spends taxpayer money, and I applaud Secretary Gates’ efforts with this.  That being said, President Obama is not adequately funding our military in order to fight the wars we are currently engaged in while also maintaining our ability to deter and engage, if necessary, in other parts of the world.  Given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other growing threats to our nation, the current defense budget is inadequate.  Over the last century, about 5.7 percent of GDP has been spent on Defense.  Under the current administration, only 3.6 percent of GDP has gone toward protecting this nation with a downward projection of only 3 percent by 2018.

“Since becoming Commander in Chief, this President has decreased overall funding for defense, impacted readiness by moving wartime funding into the base budget, and cut programs such as the F-22, C-17, Future Combat Systems (FCS), several missile defense systems and now the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  Thankfully, none of the proposed cuts would have a direct impact on Oklahoma.  Our troops on the front lines are forced to use equipment that is well past its service life, in some instances by 30 years. They are being forced to sustain aging fleets of combat vehicles, aircraft and ships at increasing operations and maintenance costs due to our inability to fund and field new equipment.  Sadly, a large part of the savings achieved by Secretary Gates will be used to cover increased operations and maintenance costs incurred due to aging equipment and increased operations tempo.  Additionally, our military is forced to delay military construction, incurring higher costs to maintain and sustain its aging infrastructure.  

“Our military is globally engaged at the highest operations tempo in the history of our all-volunteer force. They are the best military in the world and we owe them the best training and equipment in the world.  In order to provide stability, America must be able to deter or defeat any threat whether an insurgency or a challenge from a near-peer competitor.  To do this, Congress must provide the necessary funds so that our troops have the most capable equipment available, and the Department of Defense must ensure that every dollar is well spent.  We cannot afford to “kick the can down the road” again and not adequately modernize our fighting force to ensure they are fully prepared to defend our nation.”

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