It should by now be axiomatic that the best way to have fewer military personnel to memorialize is to maintain defense forces strong enough to deter aggression or to defeat any aggressors while suffering less American loss of life.
At a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee meeting leading into Memorial Day weekend, veteran U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) repeated his earlier concerns that the Biden administration plans to shortchange the national defense budget. He is right: Biden’s budget request would set this nation on a path bordering on military anemia.
Shelby noted that Biden’s overall defense request for 2023 of $813 billion, just a 3.8% increase, would not even keep pace with inflation, which has been running for months at more than twice that rate. He has said that with threats from Russia and China both increasing, the United States needs more robust forces, not force reductions.
As Frederico Bartels of the Heritage Foundation noted in April, Biden’s request would reduce the Army by 12,000 soldiers, cut the number of naval ships from 298 to 280 by 2027 (under President Reagan, the number was 592!), and reduce the Air Force by 269 planes.
And former Navy Secretary James Webb has warned that the Marine Corps is being gutted.
Worse, Biden wants to redirect some of the remaining funds for left-wing, nonmilitary purposes such as $3.1 billion in initiatives to fight climate change. As Matthew Continetti lamented on May 27 in a Washington Free Beacon column pleading for a defense buildup, “Progressives under Obama and Biden see the Pentagon more as a vehicle for social policy and geopolitical featherbedding than as an instrument of deterrence and the national interest.”
For all these reasons and more, according to a March report by Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “For strategic and budgetary reasons, force structure is ‘staring into the abyss.’” That is the very first line of the CSIS’s exhaustive, 158-page assessment of U.S. defense capabilities, readiness, and long-range prospects.
When it comes to military preparedness, wokeness is weakness. And weakness makes it more likely that our military service personnel will suffer grievous wounds or pay the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s provide more for a stronger defense than Biden requests so as to avoid creating the need for more memorials.