By Rene Sotolongo:
I have had the distinct pleasure of serving my country for twenty years in the United States Navy. During that time I have served under three different presidents. Two democrats and one republican. What I know for a fact, under the Obama administration our armed forces and military readiness have been decimated by a feckless “lead-from-behind” president. Let’s look at the results of this administration’s policy.
According to the Heritage Foundation
“The U.S. does not have the right force to meet a two major regional contingency (MRC) requirement, and it is NOT ready to carry out its duties effectively. Our national security has been handicapped by budget cuts and sequestration.”
In my twenty years of service, I have never seen morale this low. The only time in living memory that we can remember morale being this bad was during the Carter presidency. And it took Ronald Regan a monumental effort to restore the dignity and pride of our military. This is now the task that has befallen President-elect Donald Trump.
In fact, just a few short months ago, the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that each and every branch of service is in “dire straits” in term of manpower, equipment, and more.
The United States Army has been reduced to just 450,000 active duty service members. That is down from a high of 566,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
The United States Navy has been reduced to 278 ships. We have not had a Navy this weak since 1916!
The United States Marine Corps is being forced to scavenge their museums and mothball fleets to acquire enough parts to keep their jets flying. In fact, they just had to pull 30 F-18 fighters out of the boneyard.
Our Air Force is flying aircraft over 40 years old. And our pilots who used to lead the world in experience and flight hours are now getting less flight time than the pilots in Russia and China. Any fighter pilot will tell you that air to air combat is a perishable skill. Without the ability to maintain their “edge” our pilots will get decimated. The USAF is now the oldest and smallest in its history, and the problem is growing as the demand for air power continues to grow.
And let’s not even talk about morale. No one is reporting the numbers, but according to the Department of Veterans Affairs own internal reports the suicide rate among those on active duty is almost one per day, and among veterans, the rate is a staggering 22 per day. These are the results of trying to run the military like some grand social experiment.
All I am saying here is that Trump is inheriting a nightmare situation from the Obama administration and our national security is at risk. The Obama administration has been one unmitigated failure after another. Just look at our foreign policy. Neither Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, nor President Obama can point to one single success. Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Benghazi, just to name a few. Not to mention China’s and Russia’s rapid expansion of their military and their cyber-attacks on the US. Both countries are also showing expansionist ideology as well. China is expanding into the Pacific, and Russia has expanded into the Ukraine.
Furthermore, lest we forget, it was Obama and Hilary Clinton both who failed to achieve a status of forces agreement in Iraq. It was also Obama who withdrew our forces from Iraq (after countless soldiers died to secure it) leaving a power vacuum that resulted in the rise of ISIS.
Our National Security is at the worst point it has ever been in our history. This time in history demands action by a leader who leads from the front. President-elect Trump has made rebuilding our military and taking care of our veterans a corner stone of his platform. This alone will work wonders restoring morale and esprit de corps in our military. The first step to improving our national security is restoring our military and Trump is well on his way to do that.
To stabilize the Middle East we need strong allies. Israel, long a staunch supporter of the US and our strongest ally in the Middle East has been met with scorn and disdain by the Obama administration. By announcing his plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Trump has taken a bold first step in repairing our relationship with Israel as well as reestablishing the legitimacy of Israel after the latest actions by the United Nations. Like UNESCO adopting a resolution that ignores and repudiates Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
As Trump reestablishes our long-standing relationships with our Allies in the Middle East, we can then turn our attention to fighting against ISIS. This will also allow us to put a stranglehold on Iran.
Trump has also announced his plan to deport over four million illegal immigrants from the United States. When you consider that the cost to America for “illegal” immigration is over $1 trillion, Trump’s plan will go a long way to reestablishing law and order and will greatly reduce the costs to our budget and our infrastructure.
Lastly concerns Trumps plan to restore our economy. By bringing back jobs, he increases the tax base. Increasing the number of people who have jobs helps the government by having more people pay federal income tax. Restoring fiscal responsibility to Washington will go a long way in reestablishing our power base. Our power has always emanated from our economy. Trump knows this. It’s simple. The more jobs we have, the more people who are put to work. As more and more people are put back to work, we increase tax revenue. The more revenue we have, the stronger we are as both a people and a nation.
Clearly, Trump has put together a strong plan that will reestablish America’s greatness and strength. By doing so, he restores our national security. As Ronald Reagan so eloquently stated you can only have peace through strength and thankfully, Trump is following that edict.
Rene C. Sotolongo is an OpsLens Contributor and a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who served for over twenty years as an Information Systems official. Sotolongo also specialized in homeland security and counterterrorism.