This task is only becoming more urgent. Last week brought another tragic reminder of our military’s readiness crisis when an Air Force Pave Hawk helicopter carrying seven U.S. service members crashed in western Iraq. There were no survivors.
On Friday night, Fox News’ Special Report looked at how aviation accidents like this highlight dire gaps in the readiness of our Armed Forces:
“Today, only half of the Navy’s Super Hornet fleet can fly. . . .. Fox first reported the Navy grounded its fleet of training jets after instructor pilots complained of being poisoned in the cockpit. A year later, those oxygen problems have now spread to the Air Force, which grounded its fleet of T-6 trainers two months ago.. . . Fox News has highlighted the shortage of parts that force airmen to cannibalize planes and search the desert boneyard for spare parts, a problem made worse by a shortage of mechanics.”
These are just a few examples of a widespread crisis. Aging fleets, overworked service members, insufficient training—all of it has serious consequences. In 2017, we lost 80 U.S. personnel in accidents, nearly four times as many as we lost in combat.
In the Fox piece, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) says, “We have fallen behind in supporting our men and women adequately.”
That’s why this funding bill is so critical. We won’t be playing catchup anymore. We will be providing the resources for Secretary Mattis’ strategy to rebuild our military, modernize our forces, and fulfill our obligations to our service members and their families.