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Morning Bell: Ready to Honor Veterans' Sacrifice
Posted By Ken McIntyre On November 11, 2008 @ 9:00 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled
Americans would do well to ponder the unrelieved strains on the nation’s military readiness on this Veterans Day, one short week after the election of a new president and Congress.
The Army’s readiness is particularly low. Seven years of combat overseas have exacted a grinding toll on all our military services, including the National Guard and Reserves. Among the symptoms: compromised training, shortfalls in deploying personnel and equipment, less maintenance for worn-out weapons, and truncated downtime at home before troops must redeploy.
Despite the economy’s woes, President-elect Barack Obama and the bolstered Democrat majority in the new Congress must not shrug off the Pentagon’s pleas to hold defense spending at current levels for at least three years after major combat operations in Iraq subside , Heritage national security analyst Mackenzie Eaglen argues in a new paper. She writes:
Even with the budget increases of recent years, the U.S. military is essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck. … Congress must prevent the military from crossing any ‘invisible red line’ of dangerously reduced readiness that would likely be detected only after the fact.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates — whose retention is urged upon Obama by some admirers — recently warned of “important lessons learned” from deep cuts to the defense budget following the Cold War .
Interestingly, military subjects account for five of 13 “urgent issues” on a list the Government Accountability Office released two days after the election to identify priorities for the new administration and Congress. Fleshed out on a new GAO website along with non-military topics are these challenges: caring for service members; defense readiness; defense spending; protecting the homeland; and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan .
The public is open to arguments for improving military readiness, a new Rasmussen poll suggests. One out of three Americans, or 34%, say close friends or relatives gave their lives in military service. Fully 79% have a favorable opinion of the military, and nearly half — 45% — consider Veterans Day to be one of the country’s most important holidays . The military’s favorability rating climbed 8 points from a Rasmussen Reports survey a year ago. Only 9% hold an unfavorable view. Among Republicans, 96% favorably view the military; among Democrats, 69% do. (For unaffiliated voters, the favorability rating is 72%.) The older the voter, the more favorable his view tends to be.
Although 43% of those surveyed say they planned to do something special today to honor veterans, 36% say they did not. In any case, Congress can do something special by taking decisive steps to provide relief and begin to restore military readiness, including:
“It is crucial that Congress and the next administration commit now to providing defense funding at current levels of roughly 4 percent of gross domestic product for the next several years,” Eaglen concludes. “The security of the country depends on it.”
And what a fitting tribute to our veterans.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/11/11/ready-to-honor-veterans-sacrifice/
URLs in this post:
 must not shrug off the Pentagon’s pleas to hold defense spending at current levels for at least three years after major combat operations in Iraq subside: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Features/NationalSecurity/bg2205.cfm
 recently warned of “important lessons learned” from deep cuts to the defense budget following the Cold War: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4295
 caring for service members; defense readiness; defense spending; protecting the homeland; and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan: http://www.gao.gov/transition_2009/urgent
 Fully 79% have a favorable opinion of the military, and nearly half — 45% — consider Veterans Day to be one of the country’s most important holidays: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/79_have_high_regard_for_u_s_military_this_veterans_day
 trade protectionism was the wrong approach: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/10/AR2008111002683.html?hpid=topnews
 lobby for an automaker bailout: http://money.cnn.com/2008/11/11/news/economy/obama_automakers.ap/
 profit fell 97% in the past quarter: http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081110/earns_starbucks.html?.v=6
 scrubbed of Obama’s first-term agenda: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/11/exclusive-obama-deletes-agenda-from-transition-web/
 sparked debate in Iran: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/10/mideast/iran.php
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