Greetings to our constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans as I endeavor to present to you another weekly update from Capitol Hill. This week I want to pursue a little different approach. I want to focus your attention on a prevailing theme from this week – national security.
The highlights of this week will discuss: the testimony of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey before the House Armed Services Committee, the press conference my colleagues held on defense budget cuts, the Iranian backed assassination plot, and the report released on the Extortion 17 (CH-47D) shoot down in Afghanistan.
I want to begin by conveying some basic facts. We have already offered $478 billion of cuts to the defense budget over the next ten years. Some individuals would say that is not enough. When the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff testified last week before the House Armed Services Committee, there were quite a few Code Pink protesters in the audience. As I exited the hearing, one woman decided to follow me and asked me why I don’t just “end the wars?” I asked her if she knew “what the only two ways are that end a war?” She replied, “just stop funding them.” My response to her was that “you end a war by either winning or losing, those are the only two ways.” I expressed to her that I am not about losing.
We cannot afford to have the sequestration option endanger our national security with another $500 billion cuts to our military. Even President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and President Obama’s selected Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Dempsey, concurred they do not support that option.
Our force is already feeling the effects as we continue to ask our men and women in uniform and their families to make sacrifice after sacrifice on this 21st Century Battlefield.
We must develop a national security strategy that is not budget based but rather requirement based. That means we must conduct a threat analysis across the geographic areas of responsibility and then match a capacity and capability to thwart those threats. We must end the failed process of telling the military… this is what you get, go defend us.
I believe there are inefficiencies we can eradicate in the Department of Defense, mainly we should move from a Cold War era “forward-deployed” force posture to a “power projection” posture. It also means that we must stop the practice of nation-building/occupation style warfare and move towards strike operations…something which we shall discuss later.
Let me share some budgetary facts:
– $1.36 trillion used to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could have funded the entire base budget of the Department of Defense for three years.
– $79.69 billion used to bailout auto makers could have funded Navy shipbuilding for over five years. Since 1990 we have gone from 546 naval vessels to 285 currently.
– $535 million taxpayer dollars dumped on Solyndra, which is not bankrupt, could have completed this year’s backlog of ship maintenance and had nearly $200 million left over.
– $3 billion spent for “Cash for Clunkers,” could have purchased some 125 transport vehicles for ship to shore operations.
– China now has over 60 attack submarines, while we are falling behind our minimum requirement of 48. The taxpayer funds spent to bailout AIG could have purchased 44 attack subs.
– The taxpayer funds we pay in interest to China on our debt could buy almost three F-22 fighter jets a week.
These are just a few examples proving that our federal government just does not understand its most important role is the security and safety of this country. Instead, leaders fall prey to “crony capitalism” and as a result place our nation in serious peril. We cannot solve our national debt/deficit problem on the backs of our military, or our Veterans.
That is why last week, Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee held a press conference to say, “No More” when it comes to cuts to our defense budget. I understand the significance of this personally as I lived through some rough years serving in the Army when the military was the bill payer for government wasteful spending programs.
Just this week we learned that Iran was seeking to execute a terrorist attack and assassination on American soil, right in our Nation’s Capital. The Iranian belligerence grows daily while we continue to portray weakness in the face of their arrogance. A strong military is a deterrent and will provide peace as you evidence strength, which is all some in this world understand.
Now is the time for America to reexamine the threats and requirements to contend with the enemy facing us on the 21st Century Battlefield. It means developing a national security strategy which will deny this non-state, non-uniform adversary a sanctuary for the purpose of recruiting, equipping, training, and preparing forces to dispatch throughout the world. It means we have to cut off his flow of men, resources, and support. It means we have to win the information operation war of words and propaganda. It means we have to cordon him off in areas where we can reduce his ability to promulgate his Islamic totalitarian ideology. It means we must have the capacity to protect the sea lanes of commerce and block adversarial intrusion and influence within our own hemisphere. As stated, we must move towards the capacity and capability to conduct fluid strike operations using our strategic maneuverability as our greatest asset.
This brings me to a report that was released this week.
Back in August, America lost 33 of its Elite Warriors, US Navy SEALS, and other Special Operations support forces. As well, we lost Afghan partners in the mission that I will hence refer to as Extortion 17. The US Army did an impeccable job in investigating this mission and I want to share with you the investigating Officer’s quote from his report:
“After conducting my investigation, I have determined that this mission, and the tactics and resources employed in its execution, were consistent with previous US Special Operations missions and the strike forces selected to execute the mission were appropriate. I also determined that the CH-47D was shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired by a Taliban fighter as the helicopter neared its landing zone.”
The investigation was conducted by a US Army Brigadier General with extensive helicopter flight experience in combat. He is now serving as an Assistant Division Commander in the US Army.
The shot which took down the aircraft hit one of the blades on the aft rotor assembly , resulting in the aft rotor separating from the aircraft, and sending the aircraft into a fatal spin. The Taliban combatant which fired the shot was summarily killed in a subsequent operation.
Last week, I had the distinct honor of speaking to one of the family members, Mr. Billy Vaughn, who lost his son during the operation. Mr. Vaughn wanted to share his insights and perspectives of which he and I concur: The greater issue of what happened that evening comes back to two points of order; Rules of Engagement and airframe availability for strike operations.
First of all, let me discuss the Rules of Engagement issue. The US Navy SEALS were launched as a reaction force due to the identification of 9-10 enemy fighters near the initial Ranger operation. Permission was not granted to the over-watch AH-64D (Apache Attk Helos) to engage…therefore the decision was made to launch the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF). These same AH-64s had already engaged an enemy ground force seen moving away from the Ranger target mission area, killing six.
My concern is that we have implemented severely restrictive Rules of Engagement on our forces operating in hostile territory. If we always wait for hostile intent to be shown, we lose our advantage. I believe it is truly time for the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings about Rules of Engagement and ascertain if it is allowing our forces to gain and maintain the tactical advantage or are we ceding the initiative to the enemy.
Secondly, on the evening of this mission there were countless other “strike operation” type missions occurring which require rotary wing lift capability. I believe it is time we reexamine the amount of lift capability that is required for our Special Operators as well as our conventional light infantry forces… Airborne, Air Assault or Marine. If we need to increase the fleet of MH-47s, as well as CH-47s, that should be a priority. The House Armed Services Committee must hold hearings in our Readiness Subcommittee to look at this issue. We also need to task out to our defense industry the mission to develop better early warning detection technology for our rotary wing fleet.
There will be many more “Tangi Valley” operations as we fight this enemy which seeks to hide in and amongst civilian populations. We need to ensure that our Warriors have the tools necessary to Find, Fix, Engage, Destroy, and Pursue this enemy.
I want every Member of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction to know one thing, our Warriors are fighting under tough conditions, in a constrained environment, and a time with reduced resources. There should be no more cuts to our Defense budget, unless any of you wish to look Mr. Vaughn and the many other families in the face and explain how you would jeopardize their loved ones lives.
The Members of the Joint Committee have a job to find the additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion cuts in our bloated government spending disease.
In conclusion, talk is cheap, and all Iran hears is talking. Eventually we will have to take action, which is all that country will comprehend. Instead of sending 100 Special Operators into some “nebulous” mission in Africa, we need to stay focused and on task.
It is unbelievable to me that the Obama Administration would venture off into combat operations, Libya as an example, without any consult with the United States Congress, as we depart Capitol Hill for a District Work Period.
Lastly, it has come to my attention that the United States Department of State issued a condolence call to the family of declared Islamic terrorist and traitor, Samir Khan. The State Department should have instead called the family of the young American who fired that Drone’s hellfire missile and congratulated them for raising an American Warrior!
Steadfast and Loyal,
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