By Debbie Gregory.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has a plan to fortify the U.S. military, and it comes with a hefty price tag.
McCain’s 33-page white paper, “Restoring American Power,” makes recommendations for the defense budget for fiscal years 2018 through 2022.
The report details how defense budget cuts under the Budget Control Act have left the military underfunded, undersized, and unready, and lays out a plan to repair, rebuild, and re-imagine the military for a wide range of threats facing our nation.
“This white paper details what I believe will be necessary to achieve these goals: repeal of the Budget Control Act, a $640 billion base defense budget in fiscal year 2018, innovation for the future, and an end to business as usual at the Pentagon,” McCain said. He added, “Rebuilding our military will not be cheap—$430 billion above current defense plans over the next five years. But the cost of inaction is worse: we will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to chart a better course.”
McCain’s white paper offers detailed recommendations for the armed services to improve capabilities incrementally, but significantly.
“Reversing this budget-driven damage to our military must be a top priority for national leaders,” McCain argues. “The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year.”
McCain would like to grow the Navy by at least 59 ships, investing in autonomous and unmanned capabilities. The Navy also needs to boost procurement of manned submarines from two per year to three per year in 2020 and four per year starting in 2021; procure an added 58 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and 16 additional EA-18G Growlers, in light of F-35C delays.
The Marine Corps needs to grow the troops by 3,000 per year by 2022. The Marines should also accelerate the procurement of replacement aircraft like the F-35B, CH-53K helicopter and KC-130J tanker; F-35B procurement should be increased by 20 aircraft over the next five years.
To stay competitive with Russia and China, the Air Force may need 1,500 fighter aircraft and an end strength boost of 20,000.
The Army should add 8,000 soldiers a year through 2022. It should also field emerging technologies, such as electronic warfare and unmanned ground vehicles and modernize air defenses and munitions.
McCain concludes, “The budget increase advocated for in this paper is a lot of money, but we must be clear about the cost of doing nothing: Our military’s ability to deter conflict will continue to weaken. And should we find ourselves in conflict, our nation will be forced to send young Americans into battle without sufficient training or equipment to fight a war that will take longer, be larger, cost more, and ultimately claim more American lives than it otherwise would have.”